In the Sixers' 115-109 victory over the Lakers at the Staples Center on Wednesday night, rookie Ben Simmons finished with 18 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and five steals, and his performance was a late occurrence . That's how good Joel Embiid can be.
The second year center outside Kansas exploited the cash score: 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and seven blocks in 34 minutes of action, the first line 46-15-7-7 recorded in the history of the NBA since blocks became an official statistic in 1973-74. Embiid set career records in points, blocks and free throws (16 of 19 from the line) and became the first player of the Sixers to score more than 40 points in a game since Allen Iverson dropped 45 in the Heat in 2006 .
But it was not only about what Embiid did, but how he did it. He dominated on the offensive end by scoring from all levels. He rose comfortably from the middle if his defender fell.
He relocated as a veteran guard for an open triple when his defender bent down.
Embiid put a clinic on the stand, going to 9 out of 10 in the restricted area and showing the footwork and touching memories evoked by Hakeem Olajuwon at his best. Sixers coach Brett Brown once described Embiid as "Shaquille O'Neal with football feet."
Those are big names, and Embiid stays healthy is still a question mark in the future, but the potential is unlimited. It's scary to see Embiid doing this through only 43 career games.
This should be illegal. A 7-foot move like James Harden through traffic?
It also does not hurt that Embiid is deciphering how to find the man open when he attracts a crowd.
Embiid even learned the subtle nuances and the veteran tricks of the game. He caught Julius Randle several times in a tearing motion to make a foul and win free throws. Apparently it's something he noticed during the film sessions with his coaches.
One month last season, Joel Embiid continued to hold a routine film session with a Sixers development coach to point out the swing faults he could get. "I can be a 7-2 Lou-Will," he said.
– Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) November 16, 2017
Defensively, Embiid has become a threat as a tire protector. It rejected seven attempts of the players of the Lakers, but it affected several more. He committed 16 total shots and blocked shots as a primary and helped the defender.
In terms of the Defensive Real Plus-Minus metric by ESPN Embiid is the second most impressive defender in the NBA this season behind DeMarcus Cousins. When Embiid is on the ground, the Sixers allow 96.4 points for every 100 possessions. When you sit down, that number jumps to 110.5 points for every 100 possessions. It's the difference between a defense like the Celtics (95.8 defensive valuation) and the Cavs (110.6 defensive valuation).
It's amazing to think that Embiid only started playing basketball organized in 2011. Six years later, he looks like the type of player that could be a MVP candidate for years to come.
Yes, the season is still fresh, and yes, Embiid has a long way to go with only 23 years before someone can anoint him as a member of the Hall of Fame. But there's no cover for Embiid, and that should scare the NBA teams out of Philadelphia.