Looking Back on a Memorable First Two Months
Joel Embiid may not have won the new season’s first Eastern Conference Player of the Month award (outrage! It instead went to Giannis Antetokounmpo), but man alive if the All-Star didn’t do some serious, dominant, historic damage to open the year.
Looking back on some of Embiid’s statistical highlights from October and November, perhaps as good a starting point as any would be that he appeared in each of the Sixers’ 24 games. His consistent availability, combined with outstanding on-court performance, can certainly be attributed directly to the Sixers’ early-season success.
Beyond that, Embiid’s combined numbers from the past two months were - in a word - large. If you wanted to use two words, they were very large.
Among the baseline averages Embiid posted, he ranked sixth in the NBA in points (27.5), fourth in rebounding (13.4), first in free throws made (8.4), first in free throws attempted (10.5), and seventh in blocks (2.0 bpg).
No other player in the league generated more double-doubles (22), 30-point games (13), or 30-point x 10-rebound games (13).
He produced a pair of 40-point x 10-rebound games, too, the first November 1st against the LA Clippers (41 pts, 13 reb)...
...and the second November 9th versus Charlotte (42 pts, 18 reb).
Embiid also accumulated the second-highest overall point total among his pro peers (660), and highest overall rebounding total (321).
Previously, the last player to reach those totals in his first 24 games was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in 1975-76 for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The only other Sixer to achieve the feat? Wilt Chamberlain, to begin the 1965-66 campaign.
Diving a little bit deeper into the stat pool, Embiid has produced a defensive win share of 1.6, which, according to basketball-reference.com, is good for second-best in the NBA. The 24-year old is second on the stats.nba.com Player Impact Estimate list (20.1) as well.
But for as ridiculous as Embiid’s individual output has been, he’s well on his way towards fulfilling his main mission for the season: putting the Sixers on a path towards title contention.
“My focus is on helping the team,” Embiid said November 21st, when asked about his MVP candidacy following a 121-120 victory over Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Embiid cranked out 31 points and 19 rebounds in the win.
“We win a lot of games, and the rest is going to take care of itself. If we end up winning, I don’t know, 50 to 55 games and my numbers are where they’re at, right now, there’s a pretty good chance [of winning MVP], but right now, it’s all about making the playoffs, and winning some games.”
The NBA also Monday handed out honors for Conference Rookies and Coaches of the Month. Landry Shamet received votes for the former (Atlanta’s Trae Young), while Brett Brown was considered for the latter (Toronto’s Nick Nurse).