The 2017-18 NBA season hasn’t even reached its quarter mark, but 76ers center Joel Embiid believes his strong play on the court so far deems him worthy of being called the best defensive player in the league.
Embiid, who is no longer on a restriction as far as playing time goes, has averaged 32 minutes per game in his past five contests, and appears to be nearing full health. The Sixers center appeared on ESPN’s “The Six” Wednesday and said his fitness level is currently at 81 percent — which appeared to be a veiled shot at ESPN analyst Jalen Rose — and he had more to say after Wednesday night’s game. Embiid spoke to reporters after his team’s 101-81 win over the Trail Blazers and added that he still has room to improve.
“It’s not all the way there but I think it’s getting better,” Embiid said, via Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I’ve still got to work on a lot of things, but it’s getting there. I can’t wait to be at a hundred percent.”
That wasn’t all he had to say either.
“Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” Embiid said.
Embiid, who has averaged 9.1 defensive rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 0.9 steals per game so far this season, has certainly been a force to be reckoned with, and has made things difficult for opposing players attempting to score in the paint. He may not be the best, at least right now, but he’s clearly up there, along with Draymond Green, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and a few others.