76ers' Joel Embiid Says Win over Giannis, Bucks Shows He Can Be NBA's DPOY

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 25: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the second half of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Wells Fargo Center on December 25, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia 76ers won 121-109. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid made a late addition to his Christmas list following a 121-109 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

During his on-court interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, Embiid thought he displayed why he should be recognized as the NBA's best defensive player.

"You know the whole season I've been humble, but I wanna be Defensive Player of the Year, and I feel like tonight showed it," he said.

Not only did Embiid finish with 31 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, he also helped limit Giannis Antetokounmpo to 8-of-27 shooting from the floor. The reigning Most Valuable Player missed all seven of his three-pointers as well.

Embiid wasn't solely responsible for Giannis' bad day but undoubtedly played a big role with his defense inside.

StatMuse @statmuse

The Sixers defense gave Giannis a present to remember this Christmas. šŸŽ 0-7 from three (ties career low) šŸŽ 23-game streak with a three snapped šŸŽ minus-18 in +/- (season low) šŸŽ 8-27 shooting (season low FG%) šŸŽ 2-11 when guarded by Embiid https://t.co/RAxTy2vyQ3


Embiid standing his ground against Giannis šŸš« https://t.co/4rwXwP3INd

The Sixers center made the All-Defensive second team in each of the last two years but has yet to collect the hardware reserved for the league's best defender. He wasĀ runner-upĀ to Rudy Gobert in 2017-18 andĀ finished fourthĀ in 2018-19.

Embiid entered Wednesday averaging a career-low 1.4 blocks, but he's holding opponents to 58.0 percent shooting inside six feet and 54.2 percent inside 10 feet, according toĀ NBA.com.

If nothing else, his performance showed how dominant he can be close to the basket when he's at his best.