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Dikembe Mutombo believes Joel Embiid has potential to be better than him

Dikembe Mutombo

Being second in the NBA’s all-time blocks list is no small feat, but Dikembe Mutombo made it look easy throughout his career, as he made it his mission to make it difficult for his opponents to score with him manning the paint. And although there are not a lot of players in the league today that share the same tenacity for protecting the rim as him, the former four-time Defensive Player of the Year has identified Joel Embiid as someone who he thinks can even be better than him, especially on the defensive end.

Speaking with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears, Mutombo made it known that he is very impressed with the Philadelphia 76ers center. Mutombo even admitted that he prays for Embiid to remain healthy for a better chance at surpassing his career achievements.

“I love that kid. I will tell you the truth. I love that kid. He’s very talented. I think he is more talented than me at that age when I came into the NBA.”

“He just wants to play the game. I’ve been praying a lot for him, a lot that he will get an opportunity to play a full season in the NBA. I hope it’s coming. He really wants to follow in my footsteps, and I’m happy to see that.”

“Maybe better than me. Offensively, he is so much further ahead than so many of us that have come from the continent of Africa. More than many big men have defensively proven themselves in the NBA. There is nothing we can say about that. The kid can rebound. He can block shots. I just want him to stay healthy and play the game, because he does love basketball.”

They may both hail from Africa and stand at least 7-feet, but the two have different playing styles, as Joel Embiid has more range and finesse, compared to Dikembe Mutombo who preferred to play closer to the basket. However, the premium they put on defense are both second to none, and they take a lot of pride in the way they play on that end of the floor.

If Embiid can make himself available for the entirety of next season, it could give him the confidence and a better understanding of what it takes to have a long and successful career at the highest level. It will also be his chance to further showcase his talents and prove that last campaign was not a fluke.