Over the last 5 or 6 seasons, an odd trend has come around the Draft night, as most teams are looking towards drafting big men with their high lottery picks, even though the league is turning smaller and smaller by the day.
Nonetheless, most of those overhyped young big men teams wind up taking with their high picks wind up being quite dominant guys with the potential not only to become franchise players but also to win an MVP or DPOY award.
Two perfect examples of that trend have been Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid, two young studs that have completely dominated both sides of the hardwood ever since making their professional debut.
Naturally, fans are constantly having takes about one of the other, making their case on who of them they would choose to build a franchise around. Truth to be told, we think there’s no wrong choice there and that both players could lead a team to the Championship, but today, we’re going to break down both of those guys in order to try and determine which one of them is better as of today.
Outside scoring: Joel Embiid
When Joel Embiid was forced to miss a lot of playing time due to injury, he started working on his three-point shot a lot and entered the league with high expectations in that regard. Even though his shot kind of regressed as time went by, he’s still a slightly better outside scorer than Anthony Davis (31.0%), attempting way more shots from three-point land on 32.4% shooting.
Inside Scoring: Anthony Davis
When it comes to inside scoring, both are great offensive players. They’re both great in the post, explosive dunkers, and Embiid has a slightly better footwork than the Unibrow. Even so, Davis is completely unstoppable below the rim and within close range, while Embiid has struggled against top-tier defenders from time to time.
Athleticism: Anthony Davis
Even though Joel Embiid is a great athlete (he used to play volleyball) with a huge wingspan and ability to contour his body, what Anthony Davis is able to do when he takes off is something just a handful of players can do. He’s skilled as a guard despite his height and is by far one of the most athletic players in the league.
Defense: Joel Embiid
While Anthony Davis is one of the best rim protectors in the league, Joel Embiid is a better overall defender. Yes, Davis is also quite solid when he’s called out to the perimeter to guard shooters, but Embiid is faster, stronger and matches up perfectly against the smaller opposition when getting caught in screens. We’d take any of them either way, but Embiid is already coming off a DPOY kind of year.
Rim Protection: Anthony Davis
On the other hand, there are just a handful of players able to do what Anthony Davis does when it comes to blocking shots. Every time the Brow hits the hardwood, you know there’s a block party and he’s going to host it. Even though Embiid averages 2.0 blocks a game, it’s still less than Davis’ 2.4. Also, Davis has led the league in blocks 3 times and has piled up as much as 10 blocks in a game compared to Embiid’s 7.
Rebounding: Anthony Davis
Even though Anthony Davis averages just 10.3 rebounds a game, he’s coming off seasons where he’s averaged 11.8 and 11.1 and has grabbed as much as 22 rebounds in a single matchup. On the other hand, Embiid averages 10 rebounds a game with a career-high of 20. Also, Davis grabs 2.5 offensive boards a game compared to Embiid’s 2.
Clutch: Anthony Davis
Joel Embiid is still yet to prove that he has that clutch gene in him. As a matter of fact, he’s missed a couple of key shots so far through his young career, but at least he hasn’t hesitated to take that big shot. Davis, on the other hand, has always been called to be the man of the moment for his Pelicans and has recorded a +/- of 2.1 in the clutch while scoring 3.4 points on 51.6 shooting.
While it’s still pretty early on his career, Joel Embiid has embraced his role as the Sixers’ franchise player, and even though he may do a little bit too much talking, he’s always had nothing but praise and encouragement for his teammates. Nonetheless, Anthony Davis has always had to do pretty much everything in both ends of the floor for the Pelicans, taking the team to the playoffs despite who’s playing beside him. They’re tied here.
Basketball IQ: Anthony Davis
Joel Embiid started playing basketball as a teenager and while he’s still figuring things out, he’s shown to be a very smart player with a natural feel for the game. Nonetheless, Davis has proven to be one of the smartest, most coachable players in the league. He’s a great cutter, a great driver, and the fact that he used to run the point growing up makes him understand the game as a whole.
Better Scorer: Joel Embiid
With his footwork and his great post offense, combined with his better shooting skills, Joel Embiid enters this year as a slightly better scorer, even though they’re both great. Embiid gets the nod here because of his versatility, but let’s not forget the fact that Anthony Davis has a career high of 59 points compared to Embiid’s 46, and Davis scores 23.5 a game compared to Embiid’s 22.3.
This season, Joel Embiid has 28.4 points per game, while Anthony Davis scores only 23.3 points per game.
Impact: Anthony Davis
Joel Embiid has been truly impactful in both ends of the glass, the Philadelphia 76ers have found ways to replace him and try and win a couple of games without him. On the other hand, Anthony Davis has been completely unreplaceable for the New Orleans Pelicans as their only and true franchise cornerstone.
1 on 1 Game: Anthony Davis
We have already established the fact that Joel Embiid is a slightly better scorer than Anthony Davis, and a better overall defender as well. Nonetheless, Davis is such a dominant rim protector, that he’d definitely take Embiid for a ride in the post. Also, Embiid is often more focused in try to get in other players’ mind instead of just balling.
Injury Prone: Even
Sadly, neither of those players have been quite durable over the course of their careers. Every time they hit the deck, we’re all taking our hands to our heads in despair praying they don’t miss much time.
Neither of them has been able to go through a full campaign in their career, so they’re both quite injury prone, the only thing that’s really not reliable about their game.