Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid had himself a career night on Friday against the Chicago Bulls. From the jump, the big man was unstoppable as he collected 25 points in 16 minutes. For the next 18 minutes, the Sixers center
didn't couldn't slow down.
By the end of the night, Embiid knocked down 17 of his 26 attempted shots and went 15 for 17 from the free-throw line. Of the 112 points the Sixers put up, Embiid was responsible for 50 of them as he notched a new career-high.
While a 50-point game has never been achieved by the big man before, an MVP-worthy performance such as Friday night's is the norm for the four-time All-Star this season. Embiid has always been a great player with tremendous upside, but he always seemed to fall short of expectations somehow.
Last season, Embiid was decent, but he had a down year for himself. This year, he's looked better than ever and is making a run to become the NBA's Most Valuable Player so far. So, what's the difference this year?
"It just feels like the game slowed down for me," Embiid explained on Friday. "The difference from this year to last year is not so much about coaching; it's more about me being willing to dominate every single minute I'm on the floor. Last year I was going through a rough time. You know, it just wasn't there."
Throughout last season, Embiid didn't shy away from expressing his frustrations with the Sixers. As the team lacked chemistry, shooting, and spacing, the big man had a hard time staying motivated, which affected his mood and on-court production.
A few upgrades around him changed the game. "The moves that Daryl (Morey) made, adding all that shooting is also helping a lot," Embiid continued. "Like I said, it's not so much about coaching, it's about me. I'm just turning a corner and just being willing to dominate every second on defense and on offense."
While Embiid is being celebrated for his dominance this early on in the season, the big man isn't satisfied just yet. As the Sixers center set a goal to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and the NBA Finals before the 2020-2021 season started, he's still got a lot of work to do moving forward.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_