He may not be a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, but Joel Embiid will at least get some recognition for his defense.
Embiid on Wednesday was named to the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team. Utah's Rudy Gobert, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist to repeat, finished as the First-Team center.
It's not to say Gobert isn't deserving, but it does feel like Embiid's impact is a little undersold. He defends more shots than any player in the NBA at the rim, allowing opponents to shoot 61.6 percent, a full percentage point better than Gobert. The fact that Embiid got just four first-place votes is straight disrespectful.
The playoffs don't weigh into regular season awards, but the Sixers' series against the Raptors further illustrated the impact of Embiid. The Sixers were a plus-90 with Embiid on the floor and a minus-111 with him out. In Game 7 alone, they were outscored by 12 in the 2:49 Embiid was on the bench in a two-point game. And that's with Embiid struggling mightily on offense and dealing with tendinitis and illnesses.
The hope is a healthy Embiid, who has always stated his goal is to win DPOY, comes back motivated.
"The only reason that I'm playing is they're telling me my presence only helps us," Embiid said during exit interviews. "Even if I'm not producing offensively, defensively they're always telling me that the numbers show it. That's why I played – I couldn't let them down. It's fine. I'll take it all. You can put this loss on me. Don't just put it on the coach or anybody else. I should play better."
Embiid was a finalist for DPOY last season, but Gobert, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo make up the field this year. Embiid should have his name back in the mix season next season and should get more serious consideration for the award in the future.
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