Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins reunite in Cleveland

It’s here, it’s finally here: All-Star weekend, baby.

After waiting a little longer than usual, the best of the best the NBA has to offer gathered together in sunny Cleveland, Ohio to take part in one of the most entertaining exhibition events the NBA has to offer. sports world has to offer.

For the fifth straight season, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid will feature prominently in the game, as he was named an All-Star starter and will represent Team Kevin Durant in the red and dark red uniforms against LeBron James and his new teammate James. Harden – who is out with a hamstring injury – in blue and grey.

But, in a twist of fate few saw coming, “The Process” isn’t the only member of the 2013-14 Kansas Jayhawks to dress up for the game. No, after eight years apart, Embiid will return to the field alongside Andrew Wiggins, in a looping moment that will make Lawrence’s collegiate fans very, very happy.

Here’s the story of how it happened, Philadelphia 76ers fans.

The 2022 NBA All-Star Game is very special for the Philadelphia 76ers center.

Once upon a time, the idea of ​​Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins being named to the same All-Star Game was crazy.

The year was 2016, summer to be exact. Wiggins was coming off a rookie of the year win with an improved second season where he averaged 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and one steal in 35.1 minutes of action. Sure, his efficiency numbers were great, as he only shot 45.9 from the field and 30 from beyond the arc, but hey, when you have a nickname like “Maple Jordan” to be a Dynamic mid-range scorer, you’re not exactly should be the next Ray Allen.

After watching Kevin Love slip away like Kevin Garnett before him in pursuit of a championship trophy, the 40-42 improbably earned the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft via a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and in Wiggins, they got their next franchise. player to build around for the future. Despite Wiggins’ rookie season low to a 16-66 record under Flip Saunders, the team’s worst mark since 2009-10, the Kansas product has helped slowly put his team back in front, with 13 wins from more in the standings than the year. before.

Expectations were surely high in the Twin Cities, and after squandering bonuses for two of the team’s best players of the past 20 years, people were elated for another Minnesota revival.

And as for Wiggins University teammate Joel Embiid? Well, no one really knew what to expect from the 7-foot center as he had yet to take the field. After entering the 2014 draft with not one but two major injuries, Embiid missed his entire first and second seasons in the NBA due to lingering concerns over a fractured navicular bone in his right foot. Would Embiid actually play for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016, or would he become the next Andrew Bynum, an extremely talented center who never took the field at the Wells Fargo Center?

Boy, oh boy, how things have changed.

Fast forward to 2022, and both former teammates have seen their perception of the NBA turned upside down. While Wiggins still averaged more points than his former comrade Jayhawk during the 2016-17 season, the player who literally personified ‘The Process’ quickly became one of the best centers and eventually one of the best NBA players, period. He is averaging a conference-high 29.6 points per game with 11.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.4 blocks and a steal and became the NBA’s leading points scorer in clutch situations.

What about Wiggins? Well, he was traded to the Golden State Warriors along with a first-round pick and a second-round pick for Jacob Evans, D’Angelo Russell and Omari Spellman; need I say more?

Now granted, Wiggins has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence since taking his talents to The Bay. While his points per game have gone down with each passing season, his efficiency stats have increased with each stint campaign with royal blue and yellow, to the point where the future 27-year-old has become a legitimate player. threat from beyond the arc, as his shooting percentage of 41.4 on 5.5 attempts clearly shows.

Does Wiggins deserve to be an All-Star? Probably not, his campaign was largely fan-generated and benefited from a healthy dose of contrarian memification, but hey, you know what they say; it’s not about how you get to the party but what you do once you arrive. To his credit, Wiggins seems to be enjoying his first All-Star spot and has even taken time off to hang out with the Embiids, Joel and Arthurwith whom he remains clearly linked to all these years later.

Could we one day see the duo share the pitch together on a fuller-time basis? Potentially, the Sixers were linked with Wiggins at various times last season, and while Warriors owner Joe Lacob had to pay $50,000 for expressing his contempt for Ben Simmons, that doesn’t mean the Warriors will. lining up to give the former first overall pick another $147 million deal when his current contract expires at the end of the 2022-23 season.

But frankly, that’s a conversation for another day. No, today Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins step onto the court for the first time as teammates since March 1, 2014, long before the pair were drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively. At various times, that outcome seemed impossible, but after a pair of very different journeys through the association we all love, that’s where the paths of two former Jayhawks crossed.

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