CAMDEN, N.J. — How much did Joel Embiid’s lack of playing time impact his All-Star chances?
The day after he was left off the All-Star reserves by the head coaches, that area of his game was a point of emphasis in post-voting conversations at shootaround on Friday.
The frontcourt reserve spots, chosen by the head coaches, went to Kevin Love, Paul George and Paul Millsap. They are all making their fourth All-Star appearances.
“I thought I deserved it,” Embiid said. “Not that I care about my stats but that was one of the points that could have been proven. I think the thing was the minutes, which I didn’t understand. If you average that many points in 24, 25 minutes, I don’t know, that should be a case. ... I’m not disappointed. I’m happy for those guys.”
Embiid is averaging 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 25.3 minutes. The Sixers follow a carefully laid out plan after he missed the last two seasons with foot injuries. He is on a 28-minute restriction and does not play in both games of a back-to-back series.
Embiid has logged 758 minutes over 30 games. In comparison, Millsap has 1,463 minutes in 43 games, George has 1,347 minutes in 38 games, and Love has clocked 1,250 minutes in 39 games.
“I think it’s a travesty, to be honest,” T.J. McConnell said. “The amount of minutes that he plays and the damage that he does, I think it’s absolute crap that he wasn’t voted into the All-Star Game.”
McConnell saw beyond Embiid’s stats to further his All-Star cause. At only 22 years old, Embiid is quickly emerging as a leader on the Sixers.
“If people don’t already know it, he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with,” McConnell said. “He’s positive every day. Even on games when he’s frustrated because he’s not able to play because it’s a back to back, he’s there cheering on his team and being encouraging in the locker room. People don’t see that behind closed doors. Like I said before, I think it’s absolutely absurd the amount of minutes that he plays and the damage that he does, there’s not another player that’s even close to that. I think the proof is right there.”
Embiid will still be at All-Star Weekend as a participant in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. He will represent the World Team in the matchup of first- and second-year players. He will be joined by Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric.
Embiid is looking forward to being in the New Orleans as part of the action. With the way he has been playing as a rookie, he could be there for the All-Star Game as soon as next season.
“That’s tough considering the guys that are in that situation,” Robert Covington said. “But Joel, he definitely deserved to be in it. He’s played great, he’s done a lot for this team in the minutes that he’s played, so it’s kind of unfortunate that he wasn’t able to get in. But there’s always other years for him to do it.”
One season of voting isn't going to deter Embiid.
“I’m not disappointed,” Embiid said. “I thought the guys that made it deserved it. I’m young so I’m going to get a lot of chances.”