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Steve Kerr compares Joel Embiid to all-time great centers: "Joel is like going into a time machine"

Joel Embiid & Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr shares what makes Joel Embiid unique

Joel Embiid is almost single-handedly towing the Sixers to the playoff picture. Ben Simmons continues to be absent, while Tobias Harris missed games due to Covid. Opponents have taken notice of Embiid’s performances, and they can’t help but offer praises to the big man.

It’s like playing against Ewing, Shaq, or Hakeem

GSW coach Steve Kerr compared Embiid’s game to some of the all-time greats. Joel really represents the past and the present with the rare combination of low-post game and outside shooting. 

“Playing against Joel is like going into a time machine. It’s like playing against Patrick Ewing or Shaq or Hakeem Olajuwon, it’s a low post-game. He will step out and shoot 3s and run some DHOs and he’s good with that.”

There are only a few back-to-the-basket big men in the NBA today. Some prefer to play face-up or have evolved their game beyond the 3-point line. Brook Lopez and Jonas Valanciunas are examples, but Embiid is different. His ability to read what the defense is giving him gives headaches to opposing teams’ coaches. 

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How Joel stacks up against Ewing, Hakeem

Let’s compare Embiid’s numbers to Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon when they were 26 years old. The Sixers star averaged 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, one steal, 1.4 blocks, and 2.8 assists. He also shot 85.9 percent from the charity stripe and 37.7 percent from the rainbow territory. Individually, Jojo has been an All-Star four times and named in All-NBA teams thrice.

Meanwhile, at 26 years old, Patrick Ewing averaged 22.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 3.5 blocks. He also shot 74.6 percent from the free-throw line and made nothing from beyond the arc. Patrick was also a 3-time All-Star during that time. Hakeem Olajuwon, at 26, had five All-Stars and averaged 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 steals, and 3.4 blocks. He also shot 69.6 percent from the charity area and connected zero percent of his attempts from the 3-point line. 

Comparing these numbers, Embiid lags in defense but made up for it with his 3-point shooting. Both Hakeem and Ewing did not make a single 3 when they were 26 years old, which shows the evolution of big men in the NBA. Jojo’s advantage is his wide offensive skillset which makes the defense guessing. The team also surrounded him with shooters, which boils down to picking their own poison when going up against the Sixers. 

Jojo Embiid is no Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, which is a good thing because if he keeps this up and helps the Philadelphia 76ers win a title, he could even be better than these two all-time greats. 

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