Joel Embiid continues to impress in his first season with the Philadelphia 76ers and he’s currently the top favorite to win the 2017 Rookie of the Year. In their game against the Sacramento Kings, Embiid faced one of the league’s most dominant big men, DeMarcus Cousins.
After a first quarter whistle, Embiid and Cousins decided to have an “ass-slapping competition.”
The referees called Joel Embiid for a traveling violation while being defended by Cousins. He looked to the official’s direction to ask for an explanation before Cousins approached him. The Sixers star center admitted that he doesn’t know why “Boogie” slapped his butt but still decided to respond.
“I didn’t understand the call so I was just laughing,” Embiid explained. “He just slapped my butt. I was like, ‘Why is he slapping my butt?’ I went back at him, not to look like a punk, just to show him that no, I ain’t going for that. Then he slapped my [butt] right back and I did it again.”
The Kings defeated the Sixers, 102-100. However, Joel Embiid established an impressive performance with 25 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. After the game, Cousins praised the rookie center, saying that he shows the potential to become the best big man in the NBA.
Unfortunately, according to “Boogie”, that will only happen from the time he retires.
“I like that kid a lot,” Cousins said. “I don’t give a lot of people props, but I like that kid a lot. I think he’s got a great chance at being the best big in the league … after I retire.”
Joel Embiid responded to Cousins’ statement and believed that he can dominate the league even with “Boogie” around.
“I don’t think I’m going to wait until he retires to be the best big man in the league,” Embiid said. “But it’s about having fun.”
SIXERS SHOULD BUILD AROUND JOEL EMBIID
With Embiid’s current performance, there is no doubt that the Sixers finally found their next franchise player. The return of Ben Simmons will surely give the Sixers a big help. However, if they want to end their struggle, they should address the logjam in their frontcourt and improve their backcourt.
As of now, the Sixers need to decide whether they will trade Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor. Most people believe that Noel will be dealt before the trade deadline. Coach Brett Brown continues with his experiment of pairing Embiid with Okafor.
However, their recent games showed the flaws of Embiid-Okafor frontcourt. When both big men are inside the court, the Sixers played poor defense. So far, Brown is yet to try pairing Embiid with Noel.
According to Mika Honkasalo Hoops Hype, trading Okafor over Noel would make sense for the Sixers. Defense is Noel’s expertise and he wouldn’t fetch a fair value on the trade market. Okafor is signed with the Sixers until 2019, making him a more attractive trade asset than Noel.
“Embiid still stretches the floor when Noel is on the roll, and there are ways of playing two traditional bigs successfully together. What doesn’t make sense is having two low-post options, as would be the case with Okafor,” Honkasalo said.
If the Sixers could get a quality point guard and wing, they could maximize the effectiveness of Embiid. So far, his statistics show that he’s qualified to be an All-Star. If he continues to improve his game and limit his turnovers, there is a higher possibility that he can surpass “Boogie” as the best big man in the league.
Photo courtesy: Habergaraj/Flickr.com
Video courtesy: Youtube/Ximo Pierto Final and Youtube/FreeDawkins