Joel Embiid’s MVP-caliber season reached its high point on Friday night in a 112-105 win over the Chicago Bulls. With Ben Simmons sidelined due to an illness, the big man went for a career-high 50 points in the win, and just for good measure, he pitched in 17 rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and two steals to get the Philadelphia 76ers over the finish line.
It on the short list for the best individual performances that a player has had in the league this season, and during his postgame press conference, one of Embiid’s teammates spoke of him in reverential tones. Tobias Harris explained to the media that Embiid is the kind of player he’ll be bringing up long after his playing career comes to an end.
#Sixers Tobias Harris after Joel Embiid's 50-point performance:
"When (my kids) ask (one day) who's the best player you played with, I'll say it's Joel Embiid." pic.twitter.com/cLtTVtKrPP
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) February 20, 2021
“It’s an honor, really,” Harris said about playing alongside the big man. “When you see a guy like that on the floor, how dominant he is on the floor, and just his ability to make plays and to score out there. I’ll tell my kids one day I was playing with Joel Embiid. When they ask who’s the best player you played with, I’ll say it’s Joel Embiid, so, it’s an honor to be out there with him on the floor.”
As for Embiid, he explained what he credits his success this season to, and more or less chalked it up to how he — no pun intended — processes the game during his seventh season as a pro.
“It just feels like the game has slowed down for me,” Embiid said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I’ll say the only difference this year from last year is not so much about coaching; it’s more about me being willing to just dominate every single minute I’m on the floor. Last year, I was going through a rough time; it was just not there. And then also the moves that [new Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey] made, adding all that shooting, is also helping a lot.
“But like I said, it’s not about coaching, it’s about me turning a corner and being willing to do it every single night on defense and on offense.”
On the season, Embiid is averaging 29.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 32.5 minutes per game for the Eastern Conference-leading Sixers. Earlier this week, Embiid was named an All-Star starter for the fourth season in a row.