Joel Embiid believes he deserves Rookie of the Year honors
Joel Embiid was poised to have a tremendously successful rookie campaign, but it ended in disappointment. Limited to 31 games before a meniscus tear in his left knee led to arthroscopic surgery, the Philadelphia 76ers budding star was playing remarkably well and deservedly heralded as the unquestioned front-runner to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
Some have scoffed at the notion that a player who appeared in so few games is deserving of the Rookie of the Year hardware. Embiid, however, argues he convincingly proved he deserves the award over other candidates.
“I mean, no disrespect to other guys,” Embiid told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “Dario [Saric] is my teammate and my friend, and I love him. And I know Malcolm [Brogdon] from when I was visiting schools. When I made my visit to Virginia, he took me around. They both had great seasons.
“I know people are saying about me, ‘Oh, he only played 31 games.’ But look at what I did in those 31 games — averaging the amount of points I did in just 25 minutes. I’m not sure why people want to punish me for that.
“Even going back to the All-Star Game, I didn’t get chosen for that, and people were killing me because I didn’t play 30 minutes a game. But here’s what I don’t understand: If I put up those numbers in less time than another guy, what’s the difference? Doesn’t it mean I did more in less time? Wait until I play as many minutes as those guys, then you will see what I do.
“But people have their own ideas about how they vote for things.”
It is without question had Embiid continued on his set pace — despite the 76ers limiting his minutes early on — he would have been an overwhelming favorite to be named Rookie of the Year. After all, the 23-year-old averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in those 31 games while only playing an average of 25.4 minutes.
There arguably is some merit to the argument that Embiid isn’t deserving of the award. It’s just that Embiid, as charismatic as he is talented, doesn’t see things that way.