Joel Embiid has emerged as an early favorite for the NBA regular-season MVP. He has led the new-look Philadelphia 76ers to the top of the Eastern Conference. They have a formidable record of 11-5 to start the season, almost two games better than anyone else in the conference.
This success has been based on Embiid coming out and dominating all his opponents. He is showing the utility of the modern center by dominating the post, but being comfortable in letting the game stretch out outside of it. Nikola Jokic is another center playing fantastic basketball this season, but Embiid is joining lists with the greatest centers of all-time.
Joel Embiid was heading into this game against Boston with a streak of four 30-10 games, which had him tied with legends like Shaq. However, Embiid dropped 38 points with 11 rebounds to comfortably add to his record against Boston. He has now tied with arguably the greatest center of all-time in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Boston and Philadelphia have quite the rivalry, so Embiid must be happy with this, especially as Joel started this streak when the Celtics swept a depleted 76ers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
The last man to win MVP as a center was Shaquille O’Neal over 20 years ago. The game has become dominated by guards and wings, so it is refreshing to see a center like Embiid impose his will on the game again.
Modern defenses were said to have cracked the code of the big-man. However, Philly’s offense has put shooters around Embiid which doesn’t allow many double-teams to stifle him.
Doc Rivers has to be praised for how he has gotten Embiid to finally live up to his potential. Let’s not forget that Embiid didn’t make it on any of the three All-NBA teams last season.
He is ready to prove all his doubters wrong and from how the season has started, it seems he is well on his way.
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