Joel Embiid might be competing for some official hardware sometime in the near future, but he already appears to have the respect of his peers. In the 2016-17 edition of the Players Voice Awards, organized by the Players’ Association, Joel Embiid was named the Comeback Player of the Year by his peers around the league.
Even if a bunch of stuffy writers thought he didn’t play enough games to win any season-long honors, the guys who he actually played against thought there was no one more deserving for this honor. Setting up the award, several of the league’s top players described what the award is supposed to stand for.
“You had to kill, you had to have an outstanding season, and that’s what it takes to be Comeback Player of the Year,” said Chris Paul. I want to blow up the “outstanding season” part of that quote into giant, neon letters, and station a sign outside every dimwit’s house that voted Malcolm Brogdon for Rookie of the Year over Embiid.
There’s no real debate about the amount of adversity Embiid had to overcome over the last two seasons, and frankly, I wouldn’t be all that shocked to see him win Comeback Player of the Year again next season, given that he missed plenty of time last year too. He definitely has the respect of his peers, and since the conversation surrounding him is still heavily focused on his injury history, two in a row is on the table.
The sad part is, Embiid did lose out on the Rookie of the Year honor again on Friday, as the players also selected Brogdon as the Rookie of the Year. If you watch the video for that segment, it’s actually sort of hilarious; once Myles Turner says, “nobody knew what he was going to be capable of doing,” there’s an awkward, five-second pause that isn’t really present in any of the other awards videos. It’s as if the Players’ Association couldn’t actually find more than two people who had anything forceful to say about Brogdon’s year.
Hopefully the Sixers’ star center is worried about much bigger things next year, like playoff berths, All-Star opportunities, and even some of the game’s bigger hardware at season’s end. So long as Embiid remains on the court and does what he’s capable of, the rest will take care of itself.
(Oh, and I suppose it’s worth mentioning Embiid won Best Social Media Follow as well. But you already knew that was on lock.)