Jokic vs. Embiid: Battle of the Best Bigs in the League
The Jokic vs. Embiid debate has amped up tenfold this season. Last year, Nikola Jokic was the one who came away with the MVP award. This season, Joel Embiid was making a strong push for the award which has sparked large media outlets, Nuggets fans, and 76ers fans to debate and argue over who is the better of the two superstar centers.in the end, it was Jokic who won the award again, but the debate is still ongoing. Both have their own strengths, but which one’s strengths outweigh the other one just enough to be considered better? Without further adieu, let’s dive into this heated debate.
Jokic vs. Embiid: Who is the Better Center?
The Case for Embiid
If you were to pit Joel Embiid one on one with any other player in the current NBA, chances are he would win the majority of the contests. Jokic included. He is also a better defender and rim protector. The 76ers center started taking his health seriously this season and had the healthiest year of his career. As a result, it was the best season of his career and looked like one of the most dominant and physical forces the league has ever seen. For this season, he posted totals of 30.5 points (good enough for the scoring title), 11.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game along with 49.9 percent shooting from the field. For extra context, his career averages are 26.0 points, 3.3 assists, 11.4 rebounds, and 49.0 percent shooting from the field. He may not be Giannis, but the eye-test still favors Embiid against most other big men in the NBA.
What about playoff success? The Philadelphia 76ers just had another disappointing playoff exit. A lot of this was due to the lack of effectiveness from Embiid’s co-star, James Harden. However, at one point, one must look at the best player, Joel Embiid. It can be argued that for the second year in a row, he threw his star point guard under the bus. His career playoff totals are 24.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. This year, he averaged 19.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 0.8 blocks per game. Also, let’s not forget a few years back when he was missing time in a crucial playoff series and was caught tweeting on the bench. This brought to question how serious Embiid is actually takes the game and rightfully so, and the Process still has yet to reach a Eastern Conference Finals.
The Case for Jokic
The advantage for Jokic is clearly his passing ability. He still struggles on defense, but makes up for it with his crazy offensive game. Many already consider him to be the best passing center the league has ever seen. For his career, he has averaged 6.2 assists, 19.7 points, 10.4 rebounds per game, and a career field-goal percentage of 54.2 percent. For the second-straight season, Jokic has won the MVP award and his averages are even better than last season with totals of 27.1 points, 7.9 assists, 13.8 rebounds per game, and 58.3 percent shooting from the field. Despite missing Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, he still willed the Nuggets to a six seed in the Western Conference.
As the saying goes, superstars up their game come playoff time. Nikola Jokic is no exception. He was one of the main reasons for not one, but two straight three to one comebacks in the 2020 playoffs. As a result, he was able to lead Denver to their first Conference Finals since 2009. Even this season, when he was beat in the first round for the first time in his career, his numbers were off the chart. Against the Warriors, Jokic averaged 31.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.0 block per game. His career playoff averages are 26.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 0.9 blocks per game.
For the verdict, we are going to go with the Serbian sensation. Embiid still has his strengths and still could see an MVP or two in his future. However, Nikola Jokic’s impact and numbers outweigh the Process at this moment. Once he gets his two co-stars back in Murray and Porter, the league could get a scare. Remember, when fully healthy in 2021 after they acquired Aaron Gordon, Denver was looking like a juggernaut before Murray’s ACL injury. Say what you will about how Jokic may look compared to Embiid, he is a two-time MVP for a reason.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images