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  • Best Interior Defender: Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers

    Embiid’s NBA debut after a two-year absence due to a fractured navicular bone in his right foot, which required multiple surgeries, has saved us from the most uninspiring rookie of the year race in recent memory.

    With his playing time limited in deference to health, Embiid has packed remarkable production into 25 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging 27.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. Of all the rookies in NBA history, only another Philadelphia center, Wilt Chamberlain, scored more prolifically per minute, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

    EDITOR’S PICKS

    Who’s the No. 1 pick in 2017 NBA draft? Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton rank their top players for the No. 1 pick in 2017 – a race that looks wide open with a deep selection of star prospects.

    Mock 2.0: New top 10 in stacked NBA draft Chad Ford updates his NBA mock draft for 2017. See where the top prospects in this star-filled draft are projected to land. Perhaps more impressive than Embiid’s volume is that he has managed to score with above-average efficiency (.572 true shooting percentage) while finishing a remarkable 36.1 percent of the 76ers’ plays with a shot, trip to the free throw line or turnover. Before Embiid, Ben Gordon (31.9 percent) and Cedric Ceballos (31.3 percent in 11.6 minutes per game) were the lone rookies with a usage rate north of 30 percent. Neither reached league average in true shooting percentage.

    Beyond Embiid’s offensive contributions, he also has the top defensive rating in ESPN’s real plus-minus (plus-1.4 RPM per 100 possessions) among rookies. With Embiid on the court, Philadelphia has allowed just 101.1 points per 100 possessions, which would lead the league, according to NBA.com/Stats.


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