After not touching the court at all last season, Kawhi Leonard proved to be a reliable first option for the Toronto Raptors, who’ve won the 2018/19 NBA Championship.
By Tom Stefanou
For the first time in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors are NBA champions. Since the foundation of the team in 1995, the Jurassic Park named team has achieved moderate success albeit limited to regular seasons.
Their playoff pushes in the past have been marred with inconsistency amongst star players such as Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan and quick 2nd round exits.
However, these playoffs were different, with the acquisition of All-Star Kawhi Leonard; NBA Champion, Finals MVP, 2-time Defensive Player of the Year. Not to undersell the Raptors, also with the now heavily underrated Marc Gasol who was poached at the trade deadline from the Memphis Grizzlies. Continue reading →
Born to the African nation of Cameroon, Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel ‘The Process’ Embiid and his impressive play has drawn comparisons to another player from the African continent. Hakeem Olajuwon. Embiid’s all-roundedness with his mastery of the post, rim protection and athleticism has only cemented the comparison and perhaps a high possibility of a Rookie of the Year win.
The 3rd pick of the 2014 draft, Embiid’s 76ers were scrutinised by fans and analysts for once again selecting a big man with history of injuries (Nerlens Noel was also sidelined for a year following an ACL tear). However, the ‘process’ of former general manager Sam Hinkie and his drafting of high risk-high reward players has led to a problem that isn’t necessarily a problem. Three top big men, Embiid, Noel and Jahlil Okafor are on roster creating a logjam with minutes and issues with spacing. With Noel and Okafor both in rumblings of trade talks, Philadelphia has the leverage with trade value on both players to acquire a scorer in the guard position. Additionally, with the team still in development, a high draft pick could await in what is seen as a stacked draft class.
Ex-General Manager Sam Hinkie sits with Joel Embiid.
While casual fans and pundits are quick to dismiss this process as risky and isolating the fans with the lack of wins, more in tune viewers and loyal fans of ‘the process’ see this approach as future-proofing the team through stock piling talent and avoiding mediocrity in the playoffs.
In an era where records are constantly/continuously being broken in the NBA, we have Joel Embiid, the diamond in the rough with the 76ers, ignoring current trends of small ball line-ups and keeping post play alive and well in the league. A player who only logs around 25 minutes a night and sits on back-to-backs but averages 20 PPG, 7.5 REB and 2.1 BLK. Not to mention this is his first full year in the NBA.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, the tides are changing. Already improving from last year, and with Ben Simmons debut estimated about a months time from now. It’s about 2 years away where we’ll start to really fear this team. The process is real, and its human embodiment is Joel Embiid.