Joel Embiid finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, a block, and 18 free throw attempts in 14 minutes during a preseason rout of the Brooklyn Nets. I don’t have the brain capacity to write a proper lede - I’m literally unable to come up with the words to sufficiently describe how amazing Embiid played. It was like a fever dream.
His first stint was innocent enough - the Sixers had a feeling out process early, looking out of sync with Simmons and Embiid pairing up for the first time. That was expected, but Embiid looked healthy and ready to go. He checked out after three minutes without much fanfare.
Then he saw the Nets backups in his second and third stints. Oh my.
Paired against 6’8” forwards in Trevor Booker and Quincy Acy and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Embiid could do no wrong. He drew fouls by the bushelful, with his patent-pending swipe move in the most, or going after offensive rebounds, or by being so large in general his limbs are just available to be hit. He took more than one per minute. He hit a Dirk Nowitzki styled step back fadeaway jumper. He took (and knocked down) a 40 foot shot after the whistle on a foul just because he could. He hit a buzzer-beating, foot-on-the-line two to end the first quarter. He banked in an and-one shot from the elbow, and then taunted the Nets that they couldn’t stop him. He did everything, all at once.
He hit Ben Simmons on a center/point guard high-low action that makes absolutely no sense if you’ve ever watched a basketball game. The Sixers are testing the laws of physics.
Tonight was about the debut of the Simmons-Embiid pairing. It didn’t always go great - T.J. McConnell was the Sixers’ catalyst during the majority of Embiid’s success. But it showed a ton of promise. And even if it doesn’t work perfectly, if Embiid is consistently as dominant as he showed he could be tonight, it almost doesn’t matter how well they play, because the Sixers’ world will just revolve around him.