Joel Embiid Named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month
Sixers center Joel Embiid has taken home the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award for games played during October and November, the NBA announced this afternoon.
Embiid has averaged 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocked shots per game so far for the Sixers.
Denver shooting guard Jamal Murray won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month award with averages of 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
The reward was a virtual certainty for Embiid, who leads all rookies in points, rebounds, and blocked shots. In fact, few people are even close. Second to Embiid’s 18.2 points per game is Jamal Murray, with fellow teammate Dario Saric (5.9) second in rebounds and Isaiah Whitehead (0.6) second among rookies in blocked shots.
No Eastern Conference Rookie outside of Saric averages even half of Embiid’s 18.2 points per game.
The possible contenders to Embiid have either been injured or have struggled so far this season. Ben Simmons, the #1 pick in the draft, has yet to play this season because of a fracture in his right foot. Brandon Ingram (2nd overall pick), Jaylen Brown (3rd), and Dragan Bender (4th) have all been largely coming off the bench for their respective teams, and Kris Dunn (5th pick) and Buddy Hield (6th) have struggled thus far.
Despite being the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Embiid is still eligible to receive rookie awards because he didn’t make an appearance in either of his first two contractual seasons. Embiid suffered a fractured navicular bone in his right foot prior to the 2014 NBA draft which kept him out the entire 2014-15 season. He then required a second surgery to correct the fracture in August of 2015, causing him to miss the 2015-16 season as well.
Embiid won the award despite having his playing time limited as the Sixers ease him back to playing regular basketball. Embiid is averaging just 22.8 minutes per game so far this season, although he just received some positive news this past week as he’s now allowed to play up to 28 minutes in a game. Embiid began the season on a 20 minute per game limit, which was bumped up to 24 minutes per game a couple of games into the season.
How restricted Embiid’s minutes are make his 18.2 point per game scoring average even more impressive. The only rookie to exceed Embiid’s 28.6 points per 36 minute scoring rate was Wilt Chamberlain in the 1959-60 season, per Basketball-Reference.
Embiid becomes just the 4th Sixers rookie to take home a Rookie of the Month award since the award’s creation in 1981-82, joining Jerry Stackhouse (who won the award one month in the 1995-96), Allen Iverson (twice, 1996-97), and Michael Carter-Williams (four times in 2013-14).
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.