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Let the record show that Joel Embiid’s All-Star push is overrated. Let it also show that there’s a difference between overrated and undeserved.
Embiid has missed almost 30 percent of the Philadelphia 76ers’ games (11). He doesn’t play both ends of back-to-backs. He is on a 28-minute cap that will remain in effect all season, per Calkins Media’s Tom Moore.
Just six players during the three-point era have been named an All-Star while averaging under 26 minutes per game. Three of them were voted in despite missing more than half a season—which, in hindsight, further supports the NBA’s reformed voting process.
As ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe opined during a Jan. 13 episode of the Lowe Post podcast, this context matters:
You just have to play a certain amount. I don’t want to hear how defense doesn’t matter, and “Who cares about defense? This is a dunk show,” and “Let’s put the most fun guys in.”
If this is a serious thing, if we’re going to get to the end of a dude’s career and say, “I don’t know if he’s a Hall of Famer—he’s just a four-time All-Star,” or “He’s a lock to get to the Hall of Fame—he’s an eight-time All-Star,” I think we should take it seriously. And taking it seriously, to me, is who, in these 40-plus games, has been the best all-around player—the 12 best all-around players.
Semantics aside, Embiid is playing like an All-Star. Tim Duncan was the last newbie who averaged at least 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game. And the Sixers post a top-eight net rating (plus-2.6) when Embiid is on the floor.
In a world where All-Star bids aren’t used to buoy Hall of Fame cases and actualize contract incentives, Embiid should be New Orleans-bound in February. In this world, his candidacy is jaded—and yet, he’s still too good to slide any lower.