Around the Globe: Joel Embiid continues hot streak

by 24USATVJan. 28, 2022, 11 p.m. 21
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This will be the last Around the Globe report before the Feb. 10 trade deadline which means teams may start to look very different and it’s possible some prominent international players are moved to new places.

Here’s the latest edition of the Around the Globe report:

Scoring at least 25 points in 16 straight games is one way to keep the top spot in the Around the Globe report. Embiid continues to put up ridiculous numbers without sacrificing efficiency; he managed to score 50 points in just 27 minutes in the Sixers’ 123-110 win against the Magic on Jan. 19. It’s even more amazing when you consider that he dominates primarily from the post in an era where the 3-point shot has become so important.

Philadelphia has not wasted his performances. They went 6-2 over their last eight games and have moved into a tie for fourth place in the East with Brooklyn. Not surprisingly, Embiid was named an All-Star starter for the fifth consecutive season. The Cameroonian big man has been durable this season, something that has elevated his case in the race for KIA NBA MVP.

Ho hum, just a massive triple-double averaged in this timeframe for the “Joker”. Jokic has quietly backpacked Denver to a 5-2 record over its last seven games despite many key players being out. Last week, he collected the player of the week award for his effort, and this week, he was named an All-Star starter. Jokic is also finding ways to improve his already elite all-around game, pulling down three more boards per game (13.8) than his career best, allowing him to find ways to get some easy buckets.

Luka has continued to get better with each passing month. He dropped 41 points in a tough 102-98 win against Toronto and registered a triple-double in the Maverick’s most recent 132-112 win against the Blazers. It’s hard for Dallas to ask more of their superstar but he may have to take on more of the scoring load in the wake of Tim Hardaway Jr.’s foot injury. If Luka is somehow able to find his 3-point stroke (just 30% for the season) his three-level scoring will open up even more easy looks for his teammates.

The Canadian combo-guard has continued to share playmaking duties with standout rookie Josh Giddey without sacrificing any scoring. The focal point of an inexperienced group, Gilgeous-Alexander continues to face loaded defenses trying to limit his damage. His efficiency has dropped as a result (42% on field goals for the season), but he still finds ways to get buckets and his assist totals have gone up each month as he continues to learn how teams prepare against him.

When it became apparent that Portland would be without Damian Lillard for an extended period, many wrote off the Blazers’ postseason chances. Nurkic has stepped up alongside talented youngster Anfernee Simons, keeping the team in the Play-In conversation as they currently rank 10th in the West. The rugged center is a nightly double-double threat and an efficient scorer, a perfect complement to the talented guard rotation Portland can flaunt when the team is at full strength.

Hernangomez has been glued to the bench most of the season with talented centers Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes in front of him, but he stood in for a one-game cameo as the lead pivot man against Philadelphia. Hernangomez actually outscored Embiid 21-18 in the first half, but Embiid proved too much for an undermanned squad in the second half. New Orleans’ depth is a prime reason they are surging towards a Play-In spot, currently sitting 1.5 games out of 10th out West.

Bismack Biyombo has become a vital part of the Suns’ rotation, helping the team go 7-0 over the past two weeks. With starting center Deandre Ayton in and out of the lineup recently due to injuries, the former No. 7 pick has functioned as both a starter and reserve. Finding ways to utilize Biyombo’s talent is part of the reason why Phoenix maintains the best overall record in the NBA.

Duarte was touted as an NBA-ready prospect and he has lived up to those claims, providing valuable wing minutes for the Pacers all year. Duarte looked good as a primary scorer during Indiana’s impressive overtime win against Golden State, pouring in an efficient 27 points. What makes Duarte so good is that he has been able to toggle between starter and reserve as the team continues to face lineup instability due to injuries. Once Malcolm Brogdon returns, Duarte figures to be back on the bench while adding some much-needed scoring punch to the second unit.

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