Many moons ago, the landscape of the basketball world was covered in the shadow of the giants. Monstrous bullies stomped up and down the hardwood, spreading fear throughout the league. They acted as both the bludgeoning sledgehammer that led their franchises offenses, and the immovable anchor of their defenses. These larger-than-life forces of nature shattered statistical records and NBA backboards with violent displays of athleticism and brilliant fundamentals.
Then, much like a certain Cleveland Cavalier players hairline, they appeared to vanish .
I turn your attention to a roundtable discussion from earlier this decade on this topic. The esteemed panelists featured Hall of Fame giant and car insurance salesman Shaquille O’Neal, our current head coach Steve Kerr, and former Warriors small ball experiment gone awry, Chris Webber.
Take note of Kerr’s pontification: “There’s very few that are that big, and really athletic, and skilled.” Indeed, but if only one such giant were to exist, then his mere presence would be enough to cast a horrifying shadow over the NBA.
That giant does in fact exist today. He’s seven feet tall, 250 lbs, and is 23 years old. He plays for the Philadelphia 76ers and his name is Joel Embiid a.k.a. “The Process.”
FORTY TWO POINTS. pic.twitter.com/uuh6c4KLEH— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 16, 2017
The Process is real
I know what you’re thinking Dub Nation members and loyal GSoM readers.
“Are you kidding me Daniel aka @OriginalGBK? We just rock bottomed Philly a week ago!”
Yes, this is true, but did you noti-
“He was a non factor after boasting that he wanted to kick Draymond Green’s butt! This dude is a fraud!”
Indeed, the champs did lock Embiid’s game into solitary confinement in Alcatraz that evening. He even made note to praise the Warriors’ defensive scheme following the complete humiliation.
Embiid scored 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting and compiled seven rebounds and seven turnovers.
“I have to give credit to the team defense,” Embiid said of the Warriors’ applying pressure on him. “I felt like it wasn’t a one-on-one basketball type of game.”
However, my friends, have you seen what he has done since that night of shame? Here’s the colossal prodigy’s game log following that eye opening experience in Oakland.
- Nov 11 vs Warriors: 12 Points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 7 turnovers
- Nov 13 vs Clippers: 32 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 4 turnovers
- Nov 15 vs Lakers: 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 blocks, 2 turnovers
GADZOOKS! The Clippers annihilation was on Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin, two top-tier, “elite” big men. I mean Jordan was voted to be an All-NBA center, folks! Embiid lit up Jordan and Griffin like a pair of Christmas trees, barking “he can’t f%&#king stop me” to anyone in ear shot.
32 PTS / 16 REB / 55 FG% / +23— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 14, 2017
A big night for @JoelEmbiid in LA pic.twitter.com/6m59RZyP33
He followed up that master class in “Completely Eviscerating Two All-Stars” by burying the Los Angeles Lakers before former Warriors assistant coach/current Lakers coach Luke Walton’s stunned eyes. The game was close throughout, but Embiid consistently gut punched the Lakers in crunch time.
I’m sure the big fella is eyeballing Al Horford’s tidy 18 point, 11 rebound performance against the Warriors in the champs’ loss in Boston Thursday night. He may even see some potential cracks in the Dubs’ defense. I’d bet the trash talking Cameroonian will attempt to make a loud statement Saturday evening in front of a hyped Philadelphia crowd.
The Process is in the Dubs crosshairs
“He said a little bit tonight. We talked after the game. I’m expecting a little bit more words when they’re at home next week. It should be fun, though.”
—Draymond Green on Embiid’s trash talk
In order for Embiid to make a statement at home, he’ll have to avoid being silenced by the champions vicious post defense. Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney, and David West all took turns swarming the monstrous young phenom in and out the paint. When Embiid would expose the ball to set up his trick bag of moves, they would feistily swipe at it to create steals. When he put the ball on the floor, the Warriors sent bodies flying toward him like fighter jets to force him to pass. Even getting the ball to Embiid was tough for Philly, as the Dubs pressure disrupted passing lanes.
Steal and a slam for @JaValeMcGee34 (@NBCSAuthentic) pic.twitter.com/fcCeIumORU— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 12, 2017
There also is another guy the Dubs could unleash to interrupt the growing legend of Embiid: greatest defender on the planet, Draymond Green. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year should be in quite an ornery mood after being saddled with a mysterious foul call that hurt the Warriors down the stretch in their last game versus the Celtics. A fired up Draymond is the definition of a problem for any opposing player.
Embiid playfully asked Green in the scrum after the final buzzer during their last meeting why he barely guarded him. The cameras caught Green trolling him back with what sounded like, “Cuz y’all was getting y’all (censored) beat, I’da got you in the 4th quarter!”
Game recognize game. pic.twitter.com/PXrh38eYdi— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 12, 2017
Lest Embiid forget, there was a particular sequence where Green ripped the ball from the giant, and then whupped him off the dribble for a bucket on the other end. That counts right, Joel?
Draymond Green strips Embiid on one end then finishes over him on the other end. pic.twitter.com/aCPLGlHUyP— Warriors Talk (@JaeAzizi) November 12, 2017
Yeah, that counts young fella.
Get ready for a battle
I look forward to seeing how Embiid adjusts his recent rampaging play to deal with the brilliant defensive strategies of Golden State. The Golden Empire’s shining brilliance may temporarily chase away the shadow of the giant like the high noon sun, but Embiid’s time appears to drawing near. We will see just how much the young monster has learned in the week since his last crash course lesson from the deadly Warriors.