As the godfather of the Philadelphia hoops scene, Sonny Hill has come in contact with a lot of dominant players during his 60-plus years of involvement in basketball.
So folks listen when Hill makes comparisons to the all-time greats. On Saturday night, the 76ers executive advisor and founder of the Sonny Hill League compared Joel Embiid to arguably the best player ever.
Hill marveled over the rotation and soft touch on the Sixers center’s shot long before he played in his first NBA game.
“I said to him, ‘You’ve got a chance to be a young Wilt Chamberlain,’ ” the 81-year-old said. “I’ve never ever told that to anybody before.
“So what he’s doing right now, I kind of saw that before he even got healthy.”
Chamberlain was the league’s most-dominant figure. The center averaged 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 1,045 games over his 14-year career with the Philadelphia (later San Francisco) Warriors, Sixers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Embiid, the third-overall pick of the 2014 draft, missed his first two seasons after two right foot surgeries. He only played in 31 games last season. It was initially because of not being cleared to play on back-to-back nights. Then Embiid suffered a season-ending left knee injury.
But he finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday night’s 108-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons at Wells Fargo Center. It was his 50th career game.
Embiid is the first player to produce 1,065 points, 457 rebounds, 125 assists, and 108 blocks through 50 career games, according to NBA.com. That averages out to 21.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 blocks.
The 23-year-old joins Hall of Famers David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and Ralph Sampson as the only NBA players to finish with at least 950 points, 400 rebounds, 100 assists, and 80 blocks in their first 50 games. The league didn’t keep track of blocked shots when Chamberlain played.