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The Philadelphia 76ers brought in Dwight Howard to be a solid backup big man to Joel Embiid and to be sure that they don’t completely fall off a cliff when Embiid goes to the bench. They also brought him in to be a mentor and to push him to be the superstar everybody knows he can be.
Howard, a veteran in this league for 17 years, has been a big influence on Embiid to begin the season. He has had so much individual success and he is coming off a championship run with the Los Angeles Lakers in the bubble in 2020 so he has a wealth of knowledge to hand off to Embiid.
The Sixers big man is averaging 27.7 points and 11.5 rebounds while doing things the franchise has not seen since the days of Wilt Chamberlain. He has made vast progression in passing out of double teams and he is squarely in the running for the MVP award to begin the year.
“I’m so proud of his growth and maturity court,” said Howard at shootaround Monday morning. “How he’s handling getting double-teamed, triple-teamed, getting fouled, he’s doing a great job. The one thing that I see is, it’s like a different dog in him. He’s dunking and he’s yelling at people, he’s like ‘This is my year’, and I just love what he’s doing and I’m so proud of him.”
Embiid is averaging 10.7 free throws per game and he is shooting them at 83.3% so he is doing so very efficiently and that contributes to his high scoring numbers.
Howard has obviously faced off with Embiid in the past and he knew how good the big man could be right away.
“I saw something special in Joel, I’ll say probably about three years ago,” he said with a smile. “I started really watching him play and I was really impressed by him. When I saw him in person, I was looking up and I’m like, I’m a pretty tall guy, he was taller than me! He’s shooting 3s and doing euro steps? he’s doing fadeaways. I’m like, ‘You know what? This guy has the potential to be one of the greatest to play the game’.”
At this point, it’s on the big fella to continue to work and get better. He just needs to be able to recognize that his goals are attainable with the right work ethic.
“I just want him to continue to play at this pace,” Howard added on Embiid. “Stay humble and stay hungry. Those are the two biggest areas right there for him. Stay humble and hungry. He’s gonna be great. He already is great but, I’m just really happy.”
The Sixers will take on the Detroit Pistons on Monday at 7 p.m. EST.
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