NBA followers might soon run out of superlatives for Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid, who is trying to make a case for MVP over Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. In the team’s blowout win over the severely undermanned Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, Embiid accomplished something that no other player in franchise history can claim to have done.
In the insane performance in just three quarters of play, Embiid went an efficient 10-for-17 from the field and a remarkable 14-for-16 from the free throw line. Among the standout big men in Sixers history to have never achieved what Embiid did against Houston are Julius Erving, Charles Barkley and others.
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If the beleaguered Rockets’ roster wasn’t so crippled with injuries and head coach Doc Rivers wasn’t given the opportunity to rest his starters in the fourth, who knows what Embiid’s final numbers would have been?
Embiid’s Output in Limited Minutes Unmatched in Nearly 40 Years
Embiid not only made Sixers history during the rout of the Rockets, but the 7-footer’s 34 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes was also a feat not seen anywhere in at least 38 years.
Furthermore, it’s been four years since anybody in the entire NBA went for at least 30 and 10 in the limited amount of playing time that Embiid saw on Wednesday, and the last guy who did it is not who you’d expect.
Though Michael Beasley was a stud during his one college basketball season at Kansas State and made first team All-Rookie following the 2008-2009 campaign, the 32-year-old hasn’t played in the Association since early 2019. When the former second overall pick dropped 32 points and 12 rebounds on December 21, 2017, he was suiting up for his second-to-last team – the New York Knicks.
Embiid Punishing Interior Defenders at a Mind-Blowing Rate
As discussed by NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon earlier this week, Embiid has been as dominant as ever this season and perhaps it’s no coincidence that he’s positioning himself down low more than he ever has. ESPN NBA Analyst Kirk Goldsberry produced this stunning graphic on Wednesday to showcase just how much the Sixers big man is being fed close to the basket this season.
In the modern era where many critics of the game point to an absurd number of three-point attempts as a negative, more old school guys like “The Dream” will surely love seeing Goldsberry’s graphic. Because of Embiid’s knack for calling for the ball near the paint, it’s no surprise that the Sixers are averaging a league-high 11.5 post-up possessions per game.
Additionally, with Embiid averaging 9.4 possessions in the post per game, and the second-highest team average – the Los Angeles Lakers – coming in at 9.1, that means Philly’s MVP candidate is posting up more than every other squad in the league. No wonder Shaquille O’Neal – the last center to win MVP – wants Embiid to win the award.