With the season almost a quarter over, Joel Embiid looked to have the Rookie Of The Year award sewn up. Jamal Murray is going to say otherwise.
Joel Embiid has had a stellar rookie season. He has shown that his two-year wait between draft and first game was worth it. Embiid spent two years sitting on the sidelines with a foot injury.
The 7-foot-0 center from Cameroon who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers has so far played 10 games, starting them all. In those games, Embiid has averaged 18.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.3 blocks per game.
These are incredible numbers for a first year player. Last years Rookie of the Year winner, Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 blocks per contest. Embiid’s numbers certainly stack up against these. The problem for Embiid is that he is on minutes restrictions as he is still having problems with his foot. I do not have a huge amount of confidence in Embiid’s ability to stay healthy.
Jamal Murray has had a slow start to the season. He is averaging 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest. He did not crack double figure points until the seventh game of the season, where he scored ten points. In games seven to fourteen, Murray has averaged 13.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest. He is just getting better.
These numbers do not quite match up with Embiid’s, however, some of those performances have helped the Denver Nuggets win games that they should not have won. He helped them beat the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls. Both of these teams have been more highly fancied than the Nuggets.
Philadelphia are still not a good team. Embiid is trying to make them relevant but Murray is becoming a factor in keeping the Nuggets relevant. There is a difference.
Embiid is also about to have to fight for minutes. Firstly, Nerlens Noel is about to come back and help shore up the defense. Secondly, last years number one draft pick, Ben Simmons will come into the line up probably in January and take some of the limelight off Embiid.
I originally thought that Buddy Hield was going to challenge for the award but he has not been able to play himself into the rotation deeply enough with the New Orleans Pelicans to challenge.
Since Jrue Holiday has returned, Hield has lost more minutes. Unfortunately for the rookie, and fortunately for the Pelicans, they have started winning again with Holiday in the line-up.
As with every NBA season, there is certainly more to unfold and I look forward to seeing it each and every day.