Kevin Durant Says Joel Embiid Will Take Over NBA When He's Done

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, of Cameroon, left, in action against Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Warriors won 124-116. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

In Kevin Durant's eyes, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is primed to dominate for years. 

"He can hit the three. He can dribble. He developed his skills over time, and he wants it," Durant told reporters following Saturday's All-Star Game practice in Los Angeles. "He's a great player, he's definitely a guy you respect and is going to take over this league once I'm done." 

Now in his second NBA season, Embiid has established himself as one of the league's premier two-way players. 

Through 44 games—he appeared in just 31 last season due to a strict maintenance program and season-ending meniscus surgery—the first-time All-Star is averaging 23.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. 

According to Basketball Reference, the only other players who are averaging at least 20 points, 10 boards, three dimes and a swat a night this season are Milwaukee Bucks point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins, who will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles. 

Not surprisingly, that production has earned the 23-year-old Embiid rave reviews from stars across the league. 

"He's good. He's very good," LeBron James said in November, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jessica Camerato. "Very talented. Multidimensional, can shoot the ball from the outside, can get to the post, footwork, up-and-unders, plays with a lot of energy, and he's funny too. Very funny. Very funny guy."

Embiid will suit up for Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry's side in Sunday's midseason exhibition at Staples Center, while Durant is in the starting lineup for James' squad. 

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