Last Word on Pro Basketball’s Top 30 Players: Joel Embiid

Although ranking the top 30 NBA players in today’s game is an incredibly difficult task, The Last Word on Pro Basketball staff has taken it on. Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid made the cut.

Top 30 NBA Players

Number 12 – Joel Embiid

Embiid is the fourth international player to appear in the countdown thus far. He was born in Cameroon and did not start playing basketball until he was 15. Hakeem Olajuwon, a former NBA great from Nigeria, was Embiid’s idol.

Former NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute is credited for helping “discover” Embiid’s talent. Embiid moved to the United States when he was 16 in order to continue to grow his game. He originally attended Montverde Academy, his teammate, Ben Simmons‘, alma mater, but eventually transferred to The Rock School in Gainseville, Florida. Embiid committed to the University of Kansas in 2012 as a five-star recruit.

He had a fantastic freshman year at Kansas, one that saw him earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. An injury towards the end of his college campaign saw him “fall” to the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and he didn’t make his professional debut until 2016.


Embiid is one of the game’s premier big men. Size is never going to be an issue for him. He stands at seven feet and weighs a whopping 280 pounds. Furthermore, he has an elite 7’6″ wingspan.

His game is a mix of a traditional big and a newer generation big. This is ideal, as he’s stellar on both ends of the court. He’s been one of the league’s top defenders for a while now. He’s continued that this season with averages of roughly 12 rebounds and one block and one steal per game. Partnered up with Simmons, the 76ers are a defensive nightmare.

His inside game offensively is as good as any big man’s seen in a while. Embiid is extremely tough in the paint and is stronger than most other centers. What helps set him apart even more, however, is his ability to stretch the floor. He is by no means a sniper from the outside yet, but his 35 percent shooting percentage from three shows that he cannot be left open. Embiid forces opposing bigs to defend the perimeter, which allows more driving space for his teammates.

Lastly, he’s shooting over 81 percent from the free-throw line this season. Centers often struggle at this, but fouling Embiid typically means an easy two points at the line.


Embiid is on the brink of becoming a top 10 player. What he needs to improve on, however, is decision making. He does so many things right, but at times he’s prone to one mistake that may prove to be costly.

First off, he sometimes struggles in double-team situations. A dynamic scorer like him should expect double-teams and know how to handle them. Far too often Embiid takes a low-percentage shot or turns the ball over in this situation. Offensive weapons such as Simmons and Tobias Harris are there to help him with this. This is one of the primary reasons Embiid and the 76ers haven’t seen major playoff success just yet.

The 76ers need to add more shooting to their team so Embiid isn’t expected to do just as much offensively. At the same time, however, there is enough talent on the roster for Embiid to trust to a degree.

Joel Embiid Career Accolades

Embiid has stockpiled accolades throughout his professional career. For starters, he’s been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on four occasions. This, of course, has contributed to his three All-Star appearances already.

Furthermore, he’s been on five different All-NBA teams. This includes the 2016-17 All-Rookie First Team, the 2017-18 All-NBA Defensive Second Team, the 2017-18 All-NBA Second Team, and the two same prior accolades but in 2018-19.

Last Word on Pro Basketball Ballots

We believe in full transparency in the top 30 NBA player rankings so we are going to disclose the ballots of our player rankings and where each contributor had each player ranked.

Tyler Marling – Site Manager – 10
Chase Gage – Managing Editor – 8
David Knight – Marketing Manager – 20
Zach Kircher – Associate Editor – 9
Matthew Waldman – Associate Editor – 12
David Ward – Author – 8
Avinash Chauhan – Contributor – 10
Adam Zigner – Contributor – 13
Albert Dadson – Contributor – 10
Dylan Guest – Contributor – 10
Raheem Bashir – Contributor – 21
Nathan Levine – Contributor – 10
Bill Huan – Contributor – 11

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