Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the NBAs most iconic alumni, amassing a number of awards and accolades in an era where even Michael Jordan’s dominance wasn’t enough to mask Olajuwon’s unique talent. Following his retirement, the two-time Finals MVP has stayed close to the game — training players from Alperen Sengun to LeBron James — demonstrating his inextinguishable passion for hoops while occasionally offering his assessment on popular NBA topics.
One such topic Olajuwon has touched on is a hot debate. Fans have wondered who is better between Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic and Philadelphia Nuggets star Joel Embiid.
While one might assume that the connection between the African-born Olajuwon and Embiid would be enough for The Dream to lean towards Embiid, an impressed Olajuwon clearly favors the play style of Jokic, a two-time NBA MVP.
“He’s playing the game, and you think he’s not serious, but he’s so effective,” Olajuwon tells Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard.
“He doesn’t look strong, but I see he gets such deep post position. I think maybe it’s the mismatch, but then he does the same thing against bigger guys. His shot, his fakes, they are very difficult to time. You don’t know when he’s faking and when it’s real. He has tricks!”
“He’s the one,” Olajuwon says.
When it comes to Embiid, whom Hakeem Olajuwon also worked with, there’s what can only appropriately be described as wonder.
“He’s got all the moves, but leveraging the moves is different. Why would he be shooting threes?” Olajuwon asks. “He has the advantage every night, and if I have the advantage, I’m going to wear you out.”
Jokic and Embiid are expected to be in the MVP race by the end of the 2022-23 season. However, Jokic may be edging out Embiid in the conversation of who’s better at this point in their careers.