After winning just 10 games last season, the Philadelphia Sixers have already won 15 this season – and it’s still only January. In fact, the Sixers are on pace to win 20+ games for the first time since 2012-13.
Joel Embiid is a big reason why. The 22-year-old is averaging 19.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for Philly. All are team-highs.
Sixers fans, sadly, haven’t been this excited about a player since Allen Iverson.
“(It’s been) a very long time,” Philadelphia Daily News 76ers writer Bob Cooney said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s more than what he does on the floor. It’s everything all-encompassing. He’s totally in tune with the fans, he’s on social media, he loves to compete against the best in the league – he’s just that breath of fresh air that Philadelphia needed. That’s just away from the court. On the court, this guy could be something really special – so special that longtime Philadelphia basketball fans are starting to compare him to Wilt Chamberlain already, which is probably ludicrous, but people think it’s warranted. This kid is something special.”
Embiid, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, missed his first two seasons due to injury. That’s why Cooney and others feared for the worst when Embiid appeared to injure his knee in a 93-92 home win over Portland last Friday.
Embiid, however, was fine.
“You watch it on slow motion and my thought was, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s going to be out for a year,’” Cooney said. “But it’s another part of the freakishness off him. If you watch it in slow motion, the leg bent in a way that we’ve seen it end so many people’s year. I talked to him in the locker room afterwards and he goes, ‘Oh, I’m flexible. That doesn’t bother me. No big deal.’ It’s all part of the Joel Embiid love. This thing happens, he shakes it off, he tries to come back in the game, the team won’t let him because they want to protect him, he wants to play, and afterwards he jokes about it. Something that could have been serious, he just jokes about, laughs it off and he’s ready to play again. They’re going to hold him out for the next two games, but if it was up to him, he’d be ready to roll.”
The Sixers (15-27) host the Clippers (30-16) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.