No All-NBA Honors Adds Insult to Rough Year for Embiid


Joel Embiid is unhappy.

No, not because people are using stale GIF’s to react to his highlights.

No, not because he jokingly tweeted so a few weeks ago.


Voters did not select Embiid as an All-NBA player for the 2019-2020 regular season, capping off an already dejected year for the often jubilant big man.

All-NBA Honors

Released every year, the All-NBA teams are designed to be an accurate reflection of the league’s best players from the regular season. The format does uphold some level of team-building as the three teams are assembled, essentially creating the best five-man lineups the league could provide in that given year.

Here’s how it works:

  • A global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters vote.
  • Players receive five points for a 1st team vote, three points for a 2nd team vote, and one point for a 3rd team vote.
  • Voters select two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, choosing players at the position they regularly play.
  • Players who receive votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position where they received the most votes.

Voted as an all-star starter back in February, selectors recognized Embiid as one of the league’s biggest stars.

Although when it came time for the media to vote for all-NBA, Embiid didn’t make the cut.

Fellow all-star teammate Ben Simmons made third-team All-NBA despite receiving fewer total points (61) than Embiid (79). Without star guards Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving in the mix this year, the guard spot was a little more open, whereas Embiid has to battle for one of only three center spots.

Voting at Center

Anthony Davis: 455 total points

Nikola Jokic: 311 total points

Rudy Gobert: 110 total points

Joel Embiid: 79 total points

Experts voted true centers Jokic and Gobert ahead of Embiid, but Davis earned 1st team center to some surprise. During the regular season, AD played the majority of his minutes at power forward, only logging 40% of his minutes at center. Davis is a center when it matters, specifically in late-game situations, as we’ve seen in the playoffs. This is a regular-season award, however, and he spent the majority of his minutes with another center on the floor.

Embiid Not Making the List Could Cost Him

All-NBA honors not only matters from an accolade and reputation standpoint, but also can provide a financial incentive for these stars. Best known as the “the Derrick Rose Rule,” potential franchise players could make 30% of the salary cap instead of 25% if they are an all-star starter, twice been voted All-NBA, or won an MVP award. Now Embiid would have to snag the honors next season to qualify for the supermax extension.

As previously mentioned, All-NBA teams aim to assemble a viable five-man lineup, but is this the right way to do it when so much is on the line? Shouldn’t All-NBA be a more accurate reflection of the 15 best players of the season than the three best lineups the league could assemble?

Regardless of the voting format, this was a down year for Embiid, who saw his averages dip across the board.

  • 2018-19: 27.5 PPG/13.6 RPG/3.7 APG/1.9 BPG/48.4 FG%
  • 2019-20: 23.0 PPG/11.6 RPG/3.0 APG/1.3 BPG/47.7 FG%

This reflected in the All-NBA voting:

  • 2018-19: 40 1st team votes; 375 total points
  • 2019-20: 3 1st team votes; 79 total points

Naturally, Embiid had to sacrifice some of his statistical dominance to make way for the offseason acquisition of Al Horford. Unfortunately, his sacrifice didn’t yield the expected team-success and subsequently cost him the end-of-season honor.

The Bubble Playoffs

The All-NBA snub is not the only issue keeping Joel down. Look no further than the present playoff landscape to understand the current state of Embiid’s unrest:

  • The Boston Celtics, who swept Embiid’s Sixers out of the first round, have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The Denver Nuggets’ consecutive series wins after erasing a 3-1 deficit makes Nikola Jokic the best center.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks, the team that the 76ers were designed to beat, were thoroughly dismantled in five games in the second round.

To top it all off, former beloved teammate Jimmy Butler and the Heat are tearing through the east. Up 3-1 on the Celtics, the Heat are 11-2 so far in these playoffs.

Butler has infused a relentless, junkyard-dawg mentality into this Miami team. The defensive versatility spearheaded by Butler and Erik Spoelstra’s defensive schemes are Warriors-esque. Oh, and don’t forget about BAM!

And while Jimmy is the go-to guy down the stretch, the unpredictability of where their offense will come from game to game makes them a legitimate threat to win it all.

Year one of Jimmy in Miami, he is poised to bring the franchise its first Finals appearance since 2014.

Last Offseason’s Deflating Impact on Embiid

While Joel must be happy for Jimmy as an individual, as a competitor, Embiid can only wonder what could’ve been. He has made his feelings quite clear about his kinship towards Butler.

Following Jimmy’s 40-point outburst against Milwaukee in Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals, Joel took to Twitter.

Although Embiid wanted to see them run it back with Jimmy, the 76ers organization and Butler appeared to be at odds when it came time to re-sign the All-Star guard.

In March, former 76ers teammate JJ Redick interviewed Jimmy on his podcast about his decision to leave Philadelphia. Butler described his rocky relationship with Brett Brown. He also expressed his frustration with Simmons having the ball all year long only to have that switched against the Raptors in the Conference Semis. Then he spoke about the confounding way the 76ers organization handles its business and how it ultimately created a disconnect between him and the organization.

On a recent episode of Redick’s pod, Joel also made some surprising revelations about his basketball state of mind. Frustrated by last offseason’s departures, Embiid said this season of basketball became more of a job. This year’s offense greatly missed the reliable two-man game between him and JJ, which he described as “the best offense in the league.” He said he was not himself during the regular season and that he felt uncomfortable in the new offense.

Embiid’s true feelings about this season were evident in the interview with Redick, conveying his altered approach to the game this season and his overall deflated enthusiasm for basketball.

Should there be a Concern?

This has been a trying 16 months for Joel Embiid.

The Sixers fell short of making it past the second round last May.

His two favorite teammates, Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, left in free agency.

The team struggled with chemistry issues all year, and a season that expected a long playoff run resulted in a first-round exit.

Then Embiid does not make an All-NBA team.

In a league where monitoring its stars’ happiness is paramount, Joel’s recent comments and overall attitude towards the game should be alarming for the 76ers organization.

A disgruntled star can quickly evolve into a talented player wanting out.

Butler has not been shy in recruiting for his former teammates. Even Goran Dragic has been courting the Cameroonian big man.

The organization should be attentive to all of this discontent.

The Baby Bump

Exciting news came on Thursday, however, as Joel Embiid announced the birth of his first child with his girlfriend, Anna De Paula. The newborn, Arthur Elijah De Paula Embiid, is named after Embiid’s late brother who passed back in 2014.

This is an inspiring announcement for the Sixers organization, as we have seen how this sort of news can translate on to the basketball court.

The revitalization of Fred VanVleet’s playoff run and therefore the Raptors championship last year has since been accredited to the birth of his second child during the Eastern Conference Finals. Following the birth of little Freddy, VanVleet saw his shooting averages from deep increase twofold to a tune of 55%, while averaging 14 PPG for the Raptors off the bench.

This postseason, even Mike Conley experienced the baby bump returning to Nuggets-Jazz series in Game 3 and averaging 19.1 PPG the rest of the series, a noticeable jump from his regular season average of 14.4 PPG.

Is the baby bump next for Embiid?! Hopefully this new-found perspective can reenergize the big man for next season.

Follow us on Twitter @SixersLead for the latest 76ers news and insight.

About Jeff Moran

NBA fan since the dark days of the early 2000's. Favorite player growing up was Allen Iverson. Self-loathing 76ers fan ever since. Argue with anyone, anywhere that MJ is the GOAT.

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