Joel Embiid’s rookie season is going as swimmingly as anyone could have hoped. The Philadelphia 76ers big man is the front-runner for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year by a comically wide margin and injury concerns from his past have not popped up to deter the parade. With all of that as the backdrop, Embiid has quickly become one of the league’s most interesting and exciting players and he is living up to lofty comparisons that he has been leveled with since arriving at Kansas.
One of those comparisons has always been to former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon. Both men joined forces for a quick video spot highlighting their similarities this week. Olajuwon spoke in glowing terms about Embiid, saying frankly that he can “see (himself)” in the 22-year-old center and that Embiid “has the tools and the talent to be able to” do the moves that Olajuwon made popular.
The famous “Dream Shake” was Olajuwon’s calling card, and while Embiid has not reached that status just yet, his array of athletic and crafty maneuvers around the rim have garnered acclaim. Beyond that, it is easy to see the athletic resemblance between the two and it is doubly crazy to note that Embiid holds a substantial size advantage over his role model.
Embiid, who is never shy about expressing his opinion across many platforms, also spoke deferentially about Olajuwon. He referred to the Hall of Fame big man as “one of (his) idols” and it is quite clear from the interview that Embiid respects Olajuwon’s work a great deal. The comparisons will likely never die and that is the nature of an NBA parallel. In this case, though, Embiid actually has a chance to become a transcendent player along the lines of what Olajuwon was able to do and, even if that is a small chance, the potential is tantalizing and wildly intriguing.