Joel Embiid is objectively killing it this year. The NBA’s darling young forward is averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game, while averaging only 25.4 minutes a night.
After making a push on his Twitter account to acquire fan votes for the NBA All-Star Game, Embiid succeeded, securing the fifth-most fan votes in the Eastern Conference—trailing only LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Dwyane Wade.
Embiid got validation from the fans and from a legend whom he has long admired—the Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon, whom many consider the most agile big man to ever play the game, said he sees himself in Embiid, and he’s been very impressed by the young 76ers star’s performance thus far.
Olajuwon has long had his eye on Embiid.
“I saw some YouTube videos of his game and I was very, very impressed with how he was moving,” Olajuwon said. “The movements, I go, ‘wow, I can see myself.’"
Embiid said Olajuwon is his favorite player of all-time. When Embiid was a teenager playing in Cameroon, his coach gave him a video of Olajuwon footage. Embiid said he probably watched the video six out of seven days a week.
“Just watching him move, it was so amazing,” Embiid said. “I would just go to the gym, watch whatever move he did, and do it myself.”
Olajuwon sees Embiid as a mirror of his younger days.
“He has the tools and talents to be able to do those moves,” Olajuwon said. “That’s him. That’s his game.”
The two shared their story in a video from the NBA for National Mentoring Month.
The comparison makes sense. Embiid can stretch the floor, he can pass, he can handle the ball, and he’s got some post moves. Of course, he has a long way to go before he can match The Dream, but Embiid has a promising future, and getting praise from his idol only reinforces that.