Who is the more talented big man: Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic?
It will mark the second meeting between the two clubs this season, with Jokic’s Nuggets getting the better of Embiid’s 76ers during the first matchup in Denver last month.
In that game, Jokic poured in 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while Embiid finished with 19 points and 15 boards.
With the two heavyweights ready to face off again, the question must be asked: who is the more talented center of the two?
To be honest, talent is objective, particularly when it comes to bigs. Do you prefer a bruiser who can overpower opponents like Embiid? Or do you prefer a more fundamentally sound player like Jokic?
Embiid is probably the more dominant of the two.
At seven-foot and about 250 pounds, Embiid is stronger than most players he faces. As a result, he can camp on the low block, catch entry passes and go to work all day more often than not.
Yes, Embiid can stretch the floor a bit (he is shooting 31.3 percent from three-point range), but his bread and butter is down low where he can get easy buckets.
He is also the far better defensive player, as he is unquestionably a game-changer in terms of rim protection (although his pick-and-roll defense leaves something to be desired).
Jokic is a bit different in his approach.
Sure, the Serbian can score down low, but he is more of a finesse guy in spite of his massive frame, utilizing his soft touch and his incredible passing ability to fill up the stat sheet and play more of a facilitator role, something Embiid is not all that capable of.
That doesn’t mean Jokic can’t score. In spite of his offensive struggles this year (a slump he appears to be breaking out of), the guy averaged 20.1 points per game a year ago.
The thing with Jokic is that he is also registering 6.2 assists per game this season and has been averaging at least six dimes since 2017-18, including a 2018-19 campaign in which he logged a ridiculous 7.3 assists a night.
So really, it’s a matter of taste.
Both players are supremely talented in their own ways, with Embiid being more powerful and Jokic being more refined. It’s almost like Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, except obviously on a much, much lesser scale.
The two bigs have only played one another four times in their careers, and while Jokic has generally gotten the better of the individual matchup, Embiid’s Sixers are 3-1 against Jokic’s Nuggets.
I will say that one thing that could tip the scale in Jokic’s favor is durability, as Embiid has dealt with a myriad of injury issues throughout his NBA career while Jokic is usually always available.
But really, from a talent perspective, you can’t go wrong either way.
We are talking about two of the game’s premier centers here.
It’s a shame they are in different conferences.