Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns and Philadelphia 76ers counterpart Joel Embiid have a chance to form a fun rivalry for years to come.
In today’s NBA, you simply don’t see much in the way of true rivalries.
There are seemingly a lot of reasonsing why there aren’t too many rivalries now. Players are really close friends now, the NBA has gotten soft, social media has gave players the ability to become closer, players trying to protect their brand…whatever the case is, we just aren’t blessed with the rivalries that were the norm back in the grit and grimy era NBA of the 1990s and early 2000s.
But now, we can look forward to a new rivalry: the one that hopefully will blossom between Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid. They are both young centers who are trying to assert themselves in this league, and they should have long careers in front of them.
Towns and Embiid are both around the same age (22 and 23, respectively), and are both on the fast come-up in the old NBA. They are both a product of the new-age center who can both be dominate on the inside with the post moves while also be great on the perimeter with their shooting abilities and ball handling. In today’s NBA, it is very rare to have a truly dominant center in the league, let alone two that are around the same age.
One of the last times that we had two dominant big men at the same time while being the same age was Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Garnett and Duncan had some great battles in their career and frequently played each other because they both played in the Western Conference.
Garnett, on his rivalry with Duncan.
"“Epic, epic,” Garnett said when asked about his career-long competition with Duncan. “Tim’s always been a fierce competitor. Always respected him, I’ve always respected his body of work, his accomplishments. Not just that, but the Spurs organization. He and Tony (Parker) have been a tandem to deal with for a long time”."
There is already a little trash talk going on between Embiid and Towns. You’ll remember that Towns wanted to brag about his NBA 2K18 rating to Embiid since it was better.
Embiid and Towns will have some great duels soon. They have similarities in their size, skill set, and even their stats. Towns is averaging 21.1 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on the season while Embiid is averaging 23 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
Garnett and Duncan had similar career stats, too. Garnett averaged 17.8 points, 10 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 blocks for his career while Duncan averaged 19 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2.2 blocks for his. (Both players saw their numbers plummet in the twilight of their respective careers, of course, but their numbers in their prime, back in the 2000s, were also quite similar.)
Embiid and Towns will most likely have around the same averages throughout their careers. They won’t get to play each other too much during the season because they are in different conferences but expect them to have some classic games against each other.