New York Knicks-Philadelphia 76ers Preview: Porzingis vs. Embiid
Jan 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) warms up before a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have drama going on off the court right now, but that shouldn’t take away from a matchup between two young stars.

  • New York Knicks (17-21)
  • Philadelphia 76ers (10-25)
  • Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Wednesday, Jan. 11, 7:00 p.m. ET 

Forget Derrick Rose and his drama. Forget how Carmelo Anthony is coming off a game which upset him so much he initiated his ejection. His league-leading third in case you didn’t know. Let Wednesday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers be about two young stars helping shape the future of the league.

Every rebuilding franchise in the NBA would love to have Kristaps Porzingis or Joel Embiid. Two 7-footers who shoot three-pointers (Porzingis takes and makes 5.2 per game at a 41 percent clip, and Embiid is at 3.0 per game at a 36.8 percent clip) is the holy grail during the analytics era.

This is the first matchup between the two individual stars. Both are having great seasons in different circumstances.

After sitting for two full seasons due to injury, nobody knew what to expect from Embiid. The Sixers have been searching for a player to replace Allen Iverson as the face of the franchise since they traded away their Hall of Fame guard back in 2006.

They may finally, have their guy. Embiid is running away with the Rookie of the Year Award and is leading the voting campaign to get himself into the All-Star Game. He has Rihanna-related reasons of course. Can’t blame him for that. The situations for the two big men were different, but each had their similarities.

The conditions for the two big men were different, but each had their similarities. Both players faced pressure but for various reasons. Embiid suffered individual pressure while Porzingis’ pressure was on his entire team.

The Sixers were supposed to stink, but if Embiid played poorly, he would’ve been killed in the media as a bust. Porzingis already had an impressive season under his belt, but the Knicks had enormous expectations entering 2016-17, and the sophomore from Latvia was supposed to be a big part of the formula.

Now there are a lot of problems in New York, but Porzingis isn’t one of them. Another thing the two have in common is that they have captivated their respective fanbases. In a short time, Porzingis and Embiid have become bonafide stars.

Tonight’s matchup in Philadelphia will be the first of many.

In 25 games Joel Embiid is averaging 25.0 minutes, 19.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 2.0 assists on a slash line of .466/.368/.784.

In 35 games Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 34.3 minutes, 19.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.3 assists on a slash line of .451/.410/.789.

  • All of my stats come from Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.