Other Sports

On the cusp of great things

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid photo: AP Seth Wenig  

Every season, the NBA throws up improved players who raise their game, and even make the All-NBA teams. Last year, it was the rangy, athletic Milwaukee Bucks power forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Utah Jazz center known as The Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert.

Who might it be this year? We look at three potential break-out stars – all versatile front-court players who embody a new trend in the NBA.

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers

Over 31 games in 2016-17, the 7-foot Embiid blocked shots, scored off the block, chipped in with three pointers as a stretch-5 and showed nimble footwork, reminding long-time fans of a young, in-his-prime Hakeem Olajuwon. A new contract extension and the 76ers’ refurbished squad should allow the Cameroonian to showcase his wares and break through this season.

 

Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks

Porzingis was a promising rookie in 2015-16, but the New York sad-sacks blew it for him with all-round confusion on offensive philosophy and poor squad chemistry. Freed from negative influences and given the keys of the franchise’s future, the 7’3” Latvian with a wide-spanning shooting range and promising blocking skills, can finally come into his own. Unless the Knicks screw it up somehow.

Nikola Jokic

Denver Nuggets

Built like a bruising Balkan, the 6’10” Serb’s appearance is deceptive; there are few who pass or run the offence as well, making the Nuggets a difficult match-up every night. Jokic has still a few things to learn on defence and he will get help from ace defender Paul Millsap. Already posting an outstanding player efficiency rating of 26.3 in his sophomore year, Jokic is well poised to reach the All-NBA summit.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 5:29:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/on-the-cusp-of-great-things/article19856426.ece

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