Joel Embiid is having a magical start to the season.
The 76ers rookie is doing things statistically that Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, and Hakeen Olajuwon and former first overall pick Kenyon Martin did during their rookie campaigns.
Embiid is the sixth player since the 1983-84 season to average 18.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks through his first 10 games. O'Neal was the last person to accomplish that feat, doing it in the 1992-93 season with the Orlando Magic. Hall of Famers Ralph Sampson (1983-84), Olajuwon (1984-85), Robinson (1989-90) and Dikembe Mutombo (1991-92) are the others to do it.
Embiid's 2.3 blocks are ranked fifth in the NBA heading into Wednesday's matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Wells Fargo Center. As a result, he became the first rookie to block at least 23 shots in his first 10 career games since Martin blocked 31 in his first 10 games in the 2000-01 season as a New Jersey Net. Martin did his in 338 minutes. Embiid had played only 222 minutes before Wednesday because of the restrictions on his playing time.
Despite his limited minutes, Embiid leads all rookies in points, rebounds, blocks, and field-goal percentage (49.2).
Dario Saric's move to the bench has provided the Sixers power forward more scoring opportunities.
He averaged 9.7 points while starting the team's first 10 games. However, the rookie scored 13, 16, and 10 points in his first three games off the bench before scoring just three points Monday. Wednesday's game ended too late for this edition.
"When I come into the [game from] the bench with that second five, I have more chances to attack the rim," Saric said.
But that doesn't mean Saric is satisfied with being a backup.
"When you start the season in the first five, you always want that," he said. "But it's OK. There's how many more games [67 after Wednesday]. You can change [your status]. You just go into practice and believe in yourself."
Saric downplayed the idea that he's under less pressure by coming off the bench. He said that it's actually easier to start.
"But when you don't start, it's OK," Saric said. "It's up to [Brett Brown]. He's the coach."
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has no complaints about playing for the Delaware 87ers on Monday while his Sixers teammates played the Miami Heat.
"I got my feeling about the game and for the position," the rookie swingman said, "and just the fact to run and be able to pass the ball and be able to miss shots and make shots, that was great.
"I liked it. I thought it was great."
He finished with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals in the Sevens' 116-111 victory over the Greensboro Swarm at the Bob Carpenter Center. Luwawu-Cabarrot had averaged 1.7 points and five minutes in nine appearances for the Sixers heading into Wednesday. He was the 24th overall pick in the draft in June.
"I will be happy to go there again," said Luwawu-Cabarrot, who was recalled by the Sixers on Tuesday morning.
The Sixers' end-of-the-bench rookie said he had to adjust to not being a starter for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old, however, said he feels good because of pushing himself at practice. Luwawu-Cabarrot added that he knows he'll be ready when his time comes.
"That's what I work for," he said.