Despite only playing in 31 games after suffering a knee injury late in the regular season, Joel Embiid still believes he deserves to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
The Philadelphia 76ers center recently spoke to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN and explained that even with the lack of games he played in, the panel members should have focused on what he did in the games he did play. He added that his production in limited minutes will be his advantage and that he feels he shouldn’t be “punished” for being unable to see more action.
“I mean, no disrespect to other guys. 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.”
Embiid definitely has made valid points with his statement, as he had an impressive rookie campaign with averages of 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks in only 25.4 minutes per game.
However, based on history, no rookie has won the award playing less than half of the games in a year. Another thing that may work against him is the emergence of Saric and Brogdon’s as solid first year players towards the end of the season. With all the votes already cast, it will be very interesting to find out who receives the honor. Should Embiid not win it though, he can also use it as motivation to play even better in the next few years and help the Sixers rise to prominence once again.