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January 21, 2017

What they’re saying about the Sixers: Embiid might not be an all-star at all

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Now that Joel Embiid officially won’t be a starter at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans next month, his fate as a reserve is up to league’s head coaches. In past years, Brett Brown’s peers have reached out to him, but now he finds himself on the other side of the equation, campaigning for the Sixers rookie center.

“You reach out,” Brown said. “You do that because you feel like you should. I feel like he deserves that little extra effort that I can help him with and I think that he deserves it in general.”

Brown has also received ridiculous gifts (“a coaster, a calendar, pens, they go completely overboard”) from teams looking for an all-star vote for one of their guys. He believes that his peers will help Embiid “slide in there” to Sunday’s main event in addition to the rookie-sophomore game on Friday.

“You pay attention through scout reports and just hearing that we’ve had some recent success,” he said. “You see Jo featured a lot I guess on TV lately, I’m told (pause for effect), I hope some of that counts for the momentum moving into the final vote.”

Looking at some of the media picks for all-star reserves, it’s probably a good thing for Embiid that the decision is in the coach’s hands. Bill Simmons has him starting while Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith have him in, but a lot of media outlets aren’t picking Embiid for the all-star game. Here are some of them and their reasoning:

Sports Illustrated

The conference’s most promising under-25 bigs—Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis — still appear one year away from being locks. For Embiid, a minutes limit and rest schedule that has limited him to just over 700 minutes on the season should be disqualifying, even though he’s been sensational when he has played.


Because of his limited playing time, trendy choice Joel Embiid has produced virtually identical 4.1 WARP despite rating better on a per-minute basis. So George is my pick based on his body of work.

Bleacher Report

Embiid wasn’t even listed as a snub, and the BR panel had him ranked lower than Kristaps Porzingis and Myles Turner.

Basketball Insiders

He’s the unquestioned Rookie of the Year and easily the game’s most entertaining presence on social media, but he’s not quite on par with some of the other guys up for a nod on this list. He’d be a riot in this game, but doesn’t seem likely to be named as a reserve.

Sixers fans probably don’t want to hear it, but Embiid isn’t a cut and dried case. If we’re going to use the all-star game as a measuring stick at the end of players’ careers and not simply a fun exhibition, then we can’t just vote him in because he’s so enjoyable to watch. And to some (smart) people, the 11 missed games add up because he wasn’t able to make any impact at all in over one-quarter of the Sixers' schedule. Considering they're still a below average team, I do understand that argument.

But to be clear, Embiid is a case of substance to go with the style. His counting stats are ridiculous. His defense is absurd. His singular impact on the team is frankly hard to comprehend. Embiid doesn’t just have an argument; he has a damn good one.

I’ll make an official pick in a few days, but for now, Embiid has to trust the process and let Brown do his bidding. Tell me what you think in the poll.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann