Joel Embiid Says Kevin Durant Is 'Probably' the Best Player in the NBA

Megan ArmstrongContributor IMarch 2, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid in action during an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Joel Embiid is a constant source of amusing commentary and usually fearlessly trash-talks his fellow NBA players, but Saturday afternoon brought about a true compliment from the Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center.

According to ESPN's Nick Friedell, Embiid believes Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is "probably the best player in the league."

Embiid's nicety comes on the heels of Durant telling media during All-Star Weekend that Embiid is a "great player" who could "take over this league here once I'm done." However, competitiveness did get the best of Durant during the All-Star Game when he jawed at Embiid following a foul.

Durant went on to be named the MVP of the All-Star Game.

Embiid has not played since that All-Star break due to left knee tendinitis, but the 2014 No. 3 overall pick is averaging 27.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game for the 40-22 Sixers.

Comparisons can certainly be made between Durant and Embiid. Durant stands at 6'9", while Embiid measures an even 7'0". Embiid is averaging more rebounds on the year—by nature of his position as a center as opposed to Durant's fluidity as a forward—but Durant is only slightly better in the scoring department at 27.5 points per game.

Embiid's comments come hours before Philly's prime-time tilt with Durant's Warriors. The Sixers have already beaten Golden State 113-104 this season, and Embiid erupted for 26 points and 20 rebounds in that game. However, he will be sidelined Saturday night.

To Embiid's point, Durant is a 10-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP. Upon entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick in 2007, Durant has reshaped the way the game is played by big men, becoming just as much of a threat beyond the arc as he is in the paint, if not more. 

If Embiid plans on taking over the league as Durant said he will, it will be in part because Durant provided a blueprint.