Joel Embiid Has Been Historically Great So Far This Season

Through 14 games, the 22-year-old has put himself in Hall of Fame company.

Back in June of 2014, Sixers and NBA fans alike were wondering if Joel Embiid was the right choice in Philadelphia.

In spite of an alarming injury history, I sure thought so. But, that was based on what I saw from Embiid on the court in his short time with the Kansas Jayhawks. First, he would have to prove that he could get back on the court in order to prove me, as well as many others, right or wrong.

It was a long two years, waiting for that moment when we could say whether or not Embiid would be the star big man many expected him to be. After a combination of setbacks and surgeries, Embiid finally made his debut earlier this season.

Be that is it may, Embiid's rookie season came with a clear and immediate proviso: he would be on a minutes limit and would not play back-to-backs. This makes a ton of sense for the Sixers, since they have failed to field a competitive team outside of Embiid and his fellow rookie Ben Simmons (who is currently out due to a broken foot). But, for NBA fans and fantasy basketball general managers it's been rough.

Embiid has been as advertised. He's a skilled big man with the ability to do it all inside and outside the paint. Nevertheless, when we get a dose of something that great, we only crave more. Well, outside of a minimal increase to his original minutes limit, we haven't gotten more. Even at that, we've seen Embiid play just 26.2 minutes per game in the Sixers' two contests since the announcement.

I, like you, await the day (if it ever comes) we get to see a full game -- somewhere between 28 and 32 minutes -- from the former Kansas star. But, for now, let's bask in the initial greatness of The Process and his staggering numbers.


On a per-game basis, the seven-foot native of Cameroon is racking up 18.5 points on 46.8% shooting from the floor and 50% from three-point land. At the same time, he's grabbing 7.6 rebounds (2.0 offensive), 2.4 blocks, and 1.6 assists in 23.3 minutes a game.

Those numbers aren't among the elite centers of today's NBA, but given the minutes of a backup center, they're rather impressive. And we should expect to see a rise in his per-game numbers in due time, as he operates on his new minutes limit and gets even more into the flow of the NBA season.

No matter the minutes, what has stuck out to me is Embiid's consistency, as he has not once this season scored fewer than 10 points in a game. In addition, he has secured at least seven rebounds in 10 games and has blocked two shots or more in 11 contests thus far. Even though his production isn't off the charts, it is present much more than it is absent.


For right now, we're left to wonder what Embiid could be doing with regular playing time. How would his numbers look next to those of Karl-Anthony Towns? How about Hassan Whiteside? Or all the other centers in the NBA?

It's not exact, but with the use of per-36 minute averages we can get an idea of what we'd be looking at.

Per 36 Minutes Points 3-Pointers Rebounds Blocks Assists Turnovers
Joel Embiid 28.6 2.1 11.8 3.8 2.5 5.7

Those are some pretty powerful numbers, so instead of comparing them to those of today's players, let's see which great NBA bigs have put up a similar per-36 stat line over the years.

Per 36 Minutes Points Rebounds Blocks Assists
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 25.7 13.0 3.1 3.8
David Robinson 26.2 10.3 3.1 2.8
Patrick Ewing 26.7 10.2 3.7 2.1

Over three quarters, Embiid would outscore the likes of three Hall of Famers. He would also out-rebound and out-block two of three.

In terms of turnovers, he could improve in that category, along with shooting efficiency. He's the only player of the four to shoot less than 50% from the field. But, did I mention he's at least five years younger than all three of those players? Crazy!


In accounting for the difference in pace and possessions among teams -- or even eras, for that matter -- we could look at Embiid's averages over a period of 100 possessions to get a more accurate idea of just how good they are.

Per 100 PossPoints3-PointersReboundsBlocksAssistsTurnovers
Joel Embiid39.32.916.

Due to Embiid's 37.4% usage rate, an increase in possessions would amount to an increase in turnovers -- much more than assists. Besides that, his production would be unprecedented in history.

According to Basketball-Reference, he is the only player to average at least 35 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks per 100 possessions.

The Process has been really good so far in his short stint in the NBA, but he has unquestionably displayed the abilities to be great one day, to some day become the franchise player the Sixers have craved for quite some time.