Blogtable: Is Joel Embiid the NBA's best big man?
Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
From NBA.com Staff
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Joel Embiid says he is the best big man in the NBA. What say you?
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David Aldridge: I say he may be right. Who’s better? We all see what Karl-Anthony Towns can do on the block and wings offensively, but until very recently, he’s been a terrible defender. Embiid has been, if not a stopper, a very good defender, both on the ball and helpside. You can make a case for Anthony Davis, sure, but he seems to have as much trouble staying on the floor as Embiid has had. Rudy Gobert is an elite defender, but Embiid is clearly superior offensively. Marc Gasol is 32 and has fallen off defensively. And while I love DeMarcus Cousins’s game, Embiid has it all over him on Twitter. I’m Trusting The Process on this one.
Steve Aschburner: I say, he’s generally right but it’s always best to let others say it for you, big guy. In Embiid’s case, the skill set, the production and the personality are all present and accounted for. The question remains, is he durable enough? If he can minimize his absences, playing 70 games or so a year, and stay on the floor as needed like he did in Minnesota Wednesday – 39 minutes in the Sixers’ OT victory, leading with 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists head-to-head with Karl-Anthony Towns – then I’m right there with Embiid in his assessment. But if he breaks down again or has to be restricted to, oh, 60 games or fewer going forward, then I’d stick with Towns, DeMarcus Cousins or Marc Gasol as best big for the short-term.
Shaun Powell: Slow down, young man. Perhaps in due time most of us might agree with Embiid, but for now he’s just throwing shade at other big men who are his equal if not better. DeMarcus Cousins is at the head of the list, and Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t far behind. Here’s what I want to see from Embiid before I throw rose petals at his feet (carefully, that is): A full season and an All-NBA selection. Without those, I’m looking elsewhere.
John Schuhmann: In the context of the team he plays on, Draymond Green is the best big in the league, because both ends of the floor are equally important. Green is the league’s best defender, a versatile big who can protect the rim and defend guards on switches. He’s not as polished offensively as DeMarcus Cousins or Joel Embiid, but (this is where context comes into play) he’s a terrific complement to the Warriors’ perimeter All-Stars, a smart screener and passer who’s a critical cog in the best offense in NBA history. In a vacuum, Embiid has a case as an impact player on both ends of the floor. And sooner than later, the title of “best big in the league” will surely belong to him. But right now, it belongs to the only big who played more than 15 minutes per game for the team that went 16-1 in the playoffs.
Sekou Smith: Joel Embiid says lots of interesting things that other players with his limited amount of time on the floor in actual games might keep quiet about. But part of Embiid’s appeal and aura is his unabashed belief in himself and the fact that he is indeed the best big man in the NBA. He’s not there just yet. I’d argue DeMarcus Cousins has a thicker body of work to make that claim right now. But Embiid is certainly on the short list and definitely a guy who has the entire skill set to earn that distinction and carry that best big man flag for years to come. He’ll have to battle other young stars like Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic for the title in the future, which should be entertaining, but you can’t wear the crown before your time.