Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle has been impressed by all of Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, of the three favorites for the MVP award, he thinks the Sixers’ star has been the most impressive.
Joel Embiid is currently on a run of nine straight games in which he has scored 30 points or more. That’s the longest 30+ points run for any Sixers player in the history of the franchise, a franchise where the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, and Julius Irving have plied their trade.
Impossible to Game Plan for Embiid
In his latest 30+ game, Philadelphia’s 141-121 win over the Indian Pacers on Saturday, the MVP favorite scored 31 points and notched seven assists and rebounds. He did all that in under 30 minutes.
One person who had a front-row seat to that impressive performance was Indiana head coach Carlisle. He said that Embiid was probably going to be the next MVP considering how the Sixers were playing and how he “has elevated his game.”
Carlisle added that it was very difficult to come up with a game plan for Embiid. He noted that even though Antetokounmpo’s performances were “crazy ridiculous” and Jokic was the same, Embiid might be more difficult than both.
Carlisle couldn’t believe that Embiid scored 31 points in three quarters and he did that while seemingly not trying too hard. The Indiana coach was so in awe of the 29-year-old that he described him as “a walking NBA cheat code.”For Carlisle, Embiid was that good.
Embiid Watched All Nowitzki Film There Is
There is an interesting analogy between Rick Carlisle giving Embiid compliments and a player he had on one of his teams. During his stint in Dallas, Carlisle of course coached the legendary Dirk Nowitzki. What’s interesting about Nowitzki is that he is one of Embiid’s role models.
When Doc Rivers arrived in Philadelphia, Embiid started watching a lot of Nowitzki tapes. Embiid’s trainer Drew Hanlen said that his client studied “every single made field goal” by the German.
So, when Embiid asked for more Nowitzki film, the trainer told him that Dirk would have to come out of retirement for that to happen. Hanlen said that his client has also studied every single made field goal of Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Watching Embiid play is like watching a mix of all those players. He is obviously very adept at seeing something on tape and then implementing the moves into his repertoire. He is constantly adding more to his game, and with the Sixers’ in a hot run of form and eight consecutive wins, he is the stand-out candidate for the MVP now. If he wins it, he will be the first Philadelphia player to have done that since Allen Iverson in 2001.