After last night’s Sixers victory against the Raptors, the praise is coming fast and hard. First, here’s Ben Detrick at the Ringer:
Philadelphia’s newfound “winning culture” did not arrive in the suitcases of journeyman free agents or appear thanks to the ouster of former GM Sam Hinkie, the architect of the Sixers’ rebuild whose phantom still hovers over the organization. It was there all along. It’s just visible now, because Embiid’s broken foot finally healed. The 7-foot-2 center looks like a franchise keystone: He’s the size of a McMansion but equipped with stunning mobility, a silky shooting touch, and basketball aptitude that grows exponentially by the game…
Embiid is the result of the Process, and his self-supplied nickname is perfect. In past seasons, even as the team piled up lottery picks and accumulated assets, it was unclear how this mound of clay could be molded and animated. Last year was a napalm junglefire of ineptitude, ranging from on-court performance to ownership’s meek acquiescence to league honchos, and there was no identifiable strength to build around. But now, the path to contention is obvious: Throttle the living shit out of everyone.
With one more 20-point game Embiid’s next time out, he’ll tie Allen Iverson’s Sixers rookie record of consecutive 20-point games with 11. He’s averaging under 28 minutes per game.
And the praise is far and wide. Bill Simmons said today that Joel Embiid makes his All-Star team as a starter, and just look at this tweet from Hardwood Paroxysm (who later modified the idea of it, after being shit on by people on Twitter for an hour):
This is somehow reality.
There are a couple of reasons why today, of all days, inspired these takes. First, the Sixers stuffed one of the league’s best offenses last night and beat the Raptors. Second, Embiid did his now usual scoring a point per minute he’s in the game move. Third, Dario Saric’s highlight blocks brought another part of the Process to the limelight.
The Sixers have won seven of their last nine games. Since December 8th, they’re 10-8. We’re 87 days out of the NBA playoffs. FiveThirtyEight gives the Sixers a 2% chance to make it, but then again, 87 days before the election they gave Donald Trump a 12% chance to become president.