Love for the snub: James Harden says Joel Embiid is the NBA's 'most skilled big man'
The Rockets star raved about the Sixers rookie, who failed to make it on the All-Star roster
Joel Embiid is an absolute monster, and the whole league is taking notice. The Philadelphia 76ers rookie did not make the All-Star Game, but leading MVP candidate James Harden went out of his way to rave about him after the Houston Rockets' 123-118 win over the Sixers on Friday.
"Offensively, he's just skilled, man," Harden said in his postgame interview on ESPN. "He's probably the most skilled big man we have in this league, man. Shooting the 3 at a high level, 7-2, finishing about the basket, making plays for his teammates. And then defensively, he blocked my shot. He's everywhere, man. He has a bright future and Philly has got something special here."
The most skilled big man in the league is a 22-year-old rookie? This sounds crazy, but it's not. Embiid is still relatively new to the game, but he already belongs in that conversation along with DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol and Karl-Anthony Towns. There just aren't any other people on this planet who are Embiid's size and capable of doing what he did on the first possession against Houston:
Harden had a 51-point triple-double and won the game, so he was in a good place to compliment an opponent. He did not, however, need to make such a strong statement. That shows how much respect Embiid is commanding, and that is surely related to how much more competitive Philadelphia has been in the last few weeks. It says something that Houston needed Harden's heroics to get past Embiid's Sixers by such a slim margin. Embiid finished with 32 points on 11-for-20 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks in 28 minutes, and this kind of stat line doesn't even seen abnormal for him anymore.
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