Nikola Jokic

Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Another day and another silver medal for Joel Embiid.

The Sixers' All-Star center on Thursday was named Second Team All-NBA a day after getting the same distinction on the All-Defensive team.

The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic took home First Team honors. Jokic had a terrific season and was a huge part in Denver capturing the West’s second seed, but there’s no way he should have been voted ahead of Embiid. 

Unlike the defensive team, Embiid did receive a respectable 40 first-place votes, but by any metric you measure, Embiid had a better season than Jokic.

Embiid averaged more points (27.5 to 20.1), rebounds (13.6 to 10.8) and blocks (1.9 to 0.7) a game. The only other players to achieve Embiid's numbers since blocks became an official stat are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo and Shaquille O'Neal — all Hall of Famers. But beyond that, Embiid impacts the game on both ends. Jokic’s defense is probably a little underrated, but it’s nowhere near the level of Embiid. Embiid affects more shots at the rim than any player in the NBA, including reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. 

There was an argument made that Embiid needs to play in more games to receive higher accolades. That’s absurd. Gobert played in 56 games last season when he captured DPOY. If you’re going by team record, should Jokic’s three more regular-season wins really count for anything?

It’s fair to note how arbitrary these awards are. Dwyane Wade received a vote for the Second Team while rookie Marvin Bagley received a vote for the Third Team for some insane reason. (On a side note, Ben Simmons did receive seven Third Team votes.)

Still, if you’re the Sixers, you hope it just adds fuel to Embiid’s fire. With criticism about his health, his poor performance in the second round, the Game 7 loss and now not earning First Team All-NBA or All-Defense, there’s plenty there.

If Embiid isn’t motivated this offseason, he may never be motivated.

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NBA All-Stars rave about new-look Sixers

NBA All-Stars rave about new-look Sixers

It’s All-Star Weekend, so we thought we would find out about what fellow All-Stars and other players think about your new-look Sixers.

And let’s just say, this should make Sixers fans feel pretty good ...

“They’re different. Obviously, they’ve been good, but they added more depth, more athleticism, more scoring, more star power, and you look at that starting lineup and it’s really good, and you’ve got TJ (McConnell) coming off the bench with James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons, so it gives you some athleticism coming off the bench. They are up there.” — James Harden

“Big. Long. Athletic. It will be interesting to see how much better they can get, adding Tobias Harris and those guys, because they have already shown they can be one of the top teams in the East, so with those new additions, I think the sky is the limit for them. It’s going to be fun to watch.” — Mike Conley

 “When you have four guys that are really All-Stars on a team, and then a bunch of other guys around them that can play really well, it makes it interesting to see how it’s going to work out. It makes them tough.” — Danny Green, who also said Tobias Harris should’ve been an All-Star

“Right now they are extremely dangerous, need a little bit more time to play together, but they can match (anybody in the) world.” — Nikola Jokic

“Tough ... they are probably in the talks to win the championships, for sure.” — Luka Doncic

“They’re a super, super talented team … We’ve got a good rivalry going, they are super competitive, we are very familiar with them, and they are very familiar with us. Lot of trash talking out there, that’s what makes basketball super fun, when you’re super competitive like that and everyone is watching.” — Jayson Tatum

 “All the players they have, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler now, and also got JJ Redick as a shooter and now they just incorporated Tobias. They’re going to have to get their chemistry together with him. They are just going to be a totally different team.” — Kawhi Leonard

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Sixers 117, Nuggets 110: Sixers' new starting five shows off its firepower vs. Nuggets

Sixers 117, Nuggets 110: Sixers' new starting five shows off its firepower vs. Nuggets

BOX SCORE

There was a basketball game played at the Wells Fargo Center Friday night, but at times, it felt more like a party.

The Sixers' new juggernaut starting five got off to a strong start but had to hang on to beat the Nuggets, 117-110.

After leading by as many 16 in the first half, leaky defense allowed Denver to come back and make it a tight contest.

The win improves the Sixers to 22-6 at home and 35-20 overall.

Here are observations from the win.

• Well, Tobias Harris couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start.

He missed his first look, a bunny on a great look from Ben Simmons. But he buried his next chance, knocking down a transition three from the wing on a rope from Simmons. This is something we could be seeing a lot more of. 

He nailed a huge fourth-quarter three on a similar play.

The common theory has been that Harris will fit in nicely because of his ability to shoot, but what stood out in his debut is that he’s just a damn good basketball player. He recorded 14 points in his Sixers debut.

• The biggest beneficiary of all the added star power might just be JJ Redick. Redick likely had the cleanest looks he’s had all season. His movement away from the ball is so good and he continued to just find the open spots all night.

With Redick scorching the nets all night, it helped loosen things up around the basket for everyone else.

This Ben Simmons dunk is a prime example, as he fakes the hand off to Redick and drives to the basket instead.

He finished with a season-high 34 points and hit 6 of 7 from three. It’s nice to have four star-caliber players, but it’s even better to have a guy like Redick to open things up.

• Joel Embiid, who was questionable with a stomach bug, gutted this one out, but struggled offensively. He didn't look like himself all night, but you have to give him credit, he played hard all night. 

This block to end the third quarter was just pure hustle and effort.

The shooting numbers look ugly (4 of 17 from the field), but he still managed to record his league-leading 45th double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

• Nikola Jokic was a problem yet again for the Sixers. The All-Star center and guard Jamal Murray gave the Sixers' fits in running the pick-and-roll together. The pair finished with a combined 50 points.

• The Sixers’ defense is still very clearly a work in progress. They continue to struggle against the pick-and-roll and, with a bunch of new pieces, had a miscommunications that led to a few open looks.

With that said, you have to give Brand credit for the role players he picked up. A guy like James Ennis is a perfect example of the kind of guy this team needs. He defended a pick-and-roll better than I’ve seen any Sixers’ defender do it all season. If he can hit an open three every now and then — he hit two Friday — he could be a huge pickup.

• Speaking of the bench, it’s going to be interesting to see Brett Brown’s rotations going forward. He didn’t have his full complement of players with Jonathon Simmons, acquired from Orlando in the Markelle Fultz trade, not in uniform.

One intriguing thing was how Jimmy Butler worked in the pick-and-roll with Boban Marjanovic — who got a rousing ovation from the crowd. Their first play running it led to Marjanovic’s first basket as a Sixer.

Another rotational change that’ll probably benefit the Sixers going forward is the separation of Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell. With both players unwilling to shoot from the outside, it just leads to poor offense.

It was nice to see Butler and Simmons get some run together again. They’ve had a connection pretty much since Butler arrived. Brown wanted to get Butler playing more with Embiid — for obvious reasons — but the chemistry between Butler and Simmons is undeniable.

Butler had an excellent all-around game, recording 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. He did serious damage from the line, making 14 of 14.

• Simmons has to cut down on his turnovers. He had nine Friday night. When you're surrounded by so much offensive talent there's no excuse for it. 

• Needless to say, Sixers fans are pretty delighted with the moves the team made. GM Elton Brand got the rockstar treatment, at one point getting a, “Thank you, Elton,” chant by a section of fans.

• The Sixers finally retired the late great Moses Malone's No. 2.

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