Philadelphia Sixers center Joel Embiid took the NBA by storm this season, willing his team to several impressive wins and a glimpse of things to come. Despite Ben Simmons being sidelined all season with a foot injury the Sixers played hard whenever Embiid was on the court. Before his season was prematurely cut short by another knee injury, Embiid was extremely impressive. He averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game and provided many highlight-reel plays along the way. His ferocious tenacity on the court is visibly infectious.
All of this was done under a tight minutes restriction, despite Embiid very obviously wanting and willing to play more. He underwent surgery on March 24th for a partially torn meniscus, an injury that could have been much worse. While surgery may be a deterrent to some, it would hard not to be discouraged after what Embiid has gone through. But, unsurprisingly, Joel still believes he should be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.
In speaking to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Embiid offered his take the ROY race.
I think so,” Embiid said when asked if he is the ROY. “I mean, no disrespect to other guys. Dario [Saric] is my teammate and my friend, and I love him. And I know Malcolm [Brogdon] from when I was visiting schools. When I made my visit to Virginia, he took me around. They both had great seasons. I know people are saying about me, ‘Oh, he only played 31 games.’ But look at what I did in those 31 games — averaging the amount of points I did in just 25 minutes. But people have their own ideas about how they vote for things.”
Embiid previously endorsed teammate Dario Saric to be the ROY, but obviously that sentient has changed. Saric also has a case for the award, but his season has not been nearly as noteworthy. Competing candidates for the NBA’s Rookie of the Years is a pretty good problem for the Sixers to have.
Joel Embiid on Dario Saric:
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) March 13, 2017
The 2016-2017 NBA season can be categorized as being very polarizing. Joel Embiid’s rookie season is subject to many opinions. Some believe his lack of games played is not a deterrent to be named ROY, while many others say it is. Russell Westbrook’s historic season has also been scrutinized for numerous reasons. All of this tension adds up to make for a very interesting NBA Awards Show, where the winners will be announced.