PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just one month ago, Joel Embiid endorsed Dario Saric for rookie of the year.
However, in an exclusive interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Embiid changed his tune. The Sixers’ center believes he deserves the award, despite playing in just 31 games.
“I think so,” Embiid said when asked if he should be rookie the year, per ESPN.com. “I mean, no disrespect to other guys. Dario [Saric] is my teammate and my friend, and I love him. And I know Malcolm [Brogdon] from when I was visiting schools. When I made my visit to Virginia, he took me around. They both had great seasons.
“I know people are saying about me, ‘Oh, he only played 31 games.’ But look at what I did in those 31 games — averaging the amount of points I did in just 25 minutes…If I put up those numbers in less time than another guy, what’s the difference? Doesn’t it mean I did more in less time? Wait until I play as many minutes as those guys, then you will see what I do.”
Embiid, 23, averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game. However, he suffered a knee injury in January ending his season. Embiid said the injury is much more minor that originally believed.
“When they did the MRI [before the surgery], it looked like my meniscus was fully torn,” he told ESPN.com. “But when they got it in there, they realized that wasn’t the case. It really turned out to be nothing, just a small, little thing. So that’s very good.”
The Sixers finished the season with the NBA’s fourth worst record. They also own the Lakers’ top-three protected pick, which has a 53.1-percent chance of conveying and have a pick swap with the Kings — who finished with the eighth worst record.
Embiid continues to trust the process.