MJ and Kobe-like vs. Tim Duncan-ish
Millsap played with Nikola Jokic from 2017 to 2021 in Denver. At that time, Jokic was still learning the ropes and wasn’t as dominant as he is today, but Paul already liked what he saw - enough to compare the MVP with one of the best NBA players ever.
Recently, Millsap was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the Ben Simmons-James Harden deal this season. In a short span of time, Embiid also managed to make an impression on Millsap and made him bring out some unexpected comparisons.
In a Q& with the Sixers Wire, the 16-year veteran shared some interesting stories, including what makes Jojo and Nikola different from each other.
“It’s different. Really two different players. They’re so dominant in different areas. Joker with his passing and how he passes the ball and he sets the game up with his passing. Joel, his scoring ability, the moves that he has in the post, it’s like Jordan or Kobe-like. Joker is more Tim Duncan, fundamentals, that type of style so it’s kind of completely different styles, but both of them work. I’ve been blessed to be able to see both of them first-hand.”
Paul Millsap, Sixers Wire
It’s easy to see the Tim Duncan comparison with Jokic. Both can dominate different areas of the game and are consistent in their performances. However, TD lacked the 3-point shooting and elite passing that The Joker has.
Meanwhile, the Embiid to Michael Jordan-Kobe Bryant comparison is harder to comprehend. Joel evolved his inside-outside game, and it came to a point where his point production ranks up there. The Philadelphia 76ers center averages 29.8 points per game, mixing his moves with outside shooting and bullying others on the low block.
Comparing the moves and accolades
MJ and Kobe played as shooting guards (rarely as small forwards) while Embiid plays at the center-forward position. When it comes to signature moves, Jordan and Kobe had their fadeaway in the midrange while, and Embiid’s face-up game could give hints of similarities with the legends.
For everyone who immediately wants to jump at Millsap, take a deep breath. At age 28, Embiid still has no championship ring to show - at that age, Michael Jordan already won two titles, and Kobe had three. In this regard, Jojo still has so much to catch up on. On the other side, Jokic, at 27 years old, has an NBA MVP in his trophy cabinet but no championship to show. Tim Duncan, at 27, had two MVP trophies and was a 2-time champion. We all know this, but that’s not the point Millsap was making.
His comparison was a stylistic one and quite insightful at that. It shows not only do centers still have a major role to play in the modern NBA, but they can reach such heights in different ways. The MVP race will be tight until the end of the season - who do you think should win?