Let’s just say that both Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are playing phenomenal basketball right now. It allows the big man debate to remain interesting with the performance that the two both display. With that being said, let’s take a look into both players’ season thus far.
With the numbers Jokic has displayed this season, it is understandable why he is the clear frontrunner for the MVP trophy, to some people. He is averaging 24.3 points per game. Also let’s not forget to mention he is averaging a triple double with 10.9 rebounds and 10.5 assists.
Jokic has been on a mission since the start of the season. We witnessed his body transformation last season during quarantine. The ability to drop weight and play at an even higher level is merely impressing to say the least. Jokic has emerged himself into a terrific all around player and it is hard to contain him with his ability.
Coach Mike Malone has made the effort to work the offense around Jokic. Once he gets the ball on the block, he has a few decisions to make. He can either bully his way to the rim, step back for a one legged fall away, or use his court vision to his advantage by finding cutters around the rim. Any big man who has the task to contain Jokic is in for a long night. Whether he isn’t having the best shooting night offensively, how can the defender stop his full involvement in the game? Jokic has been the dynamic factor in the Nuggets’ season. Despite the team’s early struggles, it hasn’t affected Jokic’s game individually.
Critics like myself have always been very hard on Joel Embiid. He considers himself the most unstoppable force in today’s game. But it hasn’t resonated on a consistent level. Hall Of Fame big men like Shaq and others have been vocal about Embiid’s inconsistent effort to play hard every night. And after this past season in the bubble, it was obvious that he needed to return this year a better man.
The Philadelphia 76ers currently sits at the number two spot in the Eastern Conference at 9-4, which is lead by the dominance of Embiid. Embiid is averaging 26.6 points while grabbing 12.1 rebounds in the process. It’s been a rejuvenated season so far for Embiid and the Sixers. Their quest of a championship continues on as the season progresses.
The interesting aspect of Embiid is his utilization on the floor. Over the past two seasons, we watched how Embiid would settle for ill-advised three pointers, which took his game out of whack through the playoffs. Doc Rivers has allowed him to play around the mid range area and go to work on the block. It is a wonderful sight to watch because we observe how Embiid is patient with his opportunity and how he creates a good quality look for himself from the mid range or around the paint.
We have also witnessed a better defensive presence from Embiid as well. His attention to detail has been amazing, to say the least. He is not allowing easy opportunities under the basket and he is also deflecting in the passing lanes by forcing turnovers. It’s without question that Embiid is the enforcer for Philadelphia on the defensive end. When he is active and engaged on defense it takes the Sixers to another level as far as dominance.
Who is better right now?
In conclusion, both Jokic and Embiid have been playing lights out. There could be a debate that the best big man conversation has seemed to light a spark in both players, which is the case for their MVP caliber seasons so far. If you ask me who is the better player, I have to go with The Joker. Even though Embiid is playing well so far, let’s see if he can keep it at a consistent level.