Joel Embiid Wins Prestigious Early Season Award

Joel Embiid, Zion Williamson

Getty Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Wells Fargo Center on January 02, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

After a somewhat slow start to the season, Joel Embiid has more than come alive. The Philadelphia 76ers star has helped the team navigate through injuries and begin their climb up the Eastern Conference with his strong play. As a show of recognition for his elite level, the NBA has awarded Embiid with the Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award for the month.

During the month of December, he averaged 35.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists over this time while leading the Sixers to a 9-4 record. Embiid shot 54.5% from the floor during this stretch as well as 41.7% from beyond the three-point arc. He tallied at least 30 points in ten of the matchups and also was vital to the Sixers’ eight-game winning streak from December 9th-25th.

Embiid’s Rankings Within the Sixers Organization

This marks Embiid’s fifth career Player of the Month award which breaks the previous tie with Allen Iverson to give him the most in 76ers franchise history. Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain are the only Sixers to have at least 10 games with 30+ points in a singular month.

Perhaps his most dominant performance of the month was on December 11th against the Charlotte Hornets. Embiid tallied 53 points on a career-high 20 made field goals as well as added 12 rebounds. The Kansas product is one of five players in NBA history to record at least four career games with 50 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 60% from the field.

Embiid is the first center with multiple 50-point games in a single season since, Hall of Famer, David Robinson in 1993-94. He also is the first 76er with multiple 50-point games since Iverson tallied three of these during the 2004-05 season.

The seven-footer also showcased his well-balanced style of play by ending the month with a triple-double against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This performance made him the eighth member of the 76ers to produce five triple-doubles with the franchise.

Embiid’s Rankings Around the NBA

On the season, Embiid is averaging 33.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.2 steals. His scoring total ranks second in the NBA, trailing only Luka Doncic who took home the Western Conference Player of the Month award. While the 9.8 rebounds per game are the lowest since his rookie year, it still ranks 13th in the NBA. The 4.6 assists are also a career-high for Embiid and the 1.7 blocks per game he is tallying rank 6th in the league.

On top of this, he is 4th in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating (30.6) and 3rd in the league in Player Usage Rating (38%). He also is 1st in the league in individual defensive rating 105.7. Embiid ranks 4th in the NBA in box plus/minus (8.8) including 8th in offensive box plus/minus (6.2) and 3rd in defensive box plus/minus (2.6).

Few players are as connected to a franchise as Embiid is to the Sixers. In an era where superstars tend to jump ship and link up regularly, the Cameroonian has embodied ‘The Process’ era and outlived over 100 teammates, two head coaches, and five general managers. After missing the first two seasons of his career due to foot injuries and having legitimate concerns he may not ever be able to play, Embiid has flourished into a superstar beyond what anyone could have hoped.

Throughout the seven years that he has been on the court, Embiid has continually added layers to his game. He looks to have especially put a focus on his playmaking ability this season as evidenced by his career-high 4.6 assists per game. The shooting touch he has is vastly improved from when he once came into the league. The reigning back-to-back MVP runner-up also has come a massive way with his ball handling and shot creation abilities.

The next step for Embiid will be for him to prove he can do it on the biggest stage in the postseason. The superstar has been very open about this being his biggest desire and there will be a lot at stake this season. With James Harden as the co-star that is hoped to be able to further maximize him and several key rotation players around him, it will be up to Embiid to be ready to lead the pack.

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