Both are dynamic in their own ways in the sense that each of their skillsets set them apart from other players at that position.
But, when evaluating the two against one another, who’s better?
Well, in order to do that, we need to evaluate their offensive and defensive play.
Offense: Nikola Jokic
Jokic and Embiid have nearly identical numbers on the offensive end except in one category.
Nikola Jokic: 25 ppg, 57.3 fg%, 38.6 3pt%, 84.6 ft%, 11.4 rpg
Joel Embiid: 25 ppg, 53.6 fg%, 39.4 3pt%, 84.5 ft%, 11.5 rpg
The one differentiator is assists.
Embiid currently averages 2.9 assist per game to Jokic’s [league’s high] 10.3 assist per game.
Nikola Jokic is the best passing big man in the entire NBA.
Nikola Jokic tonight:
That’s his 5th triple-double of the season, the most in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/W41g7rCSOJ
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 15, 2021
While him and Embiid both have a presence in the post, Jokic presents more of a challenge due to his playmaking ability.
His passing accuracy along with his offensive IQ makes him a better offensive player than Joel Embiid.
Defense: Joel Embiid
The one knock on Nikola Jokic’s game is his defensive play.
Although he has slightly improved on that side of the court, Embiid blows him away in the defensive category.
The one advantage Jokic has over Embiid is in the steals category.
Jokic currently averages 1.9 steals to Embiid’s 1.4 steals.
But, Embiid is a stronger, more physical defender in the paint that averages more blocks per game and allows a lower field goal percentage on shots against him.
2018-19 NBA All-Defensive:
First team: Rudy Gobert, Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Marcus Smart, Eric Bledsoe.
Second team: Jrue Holiday, Klay Thompson, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 22, 2019
Those attributes alone have allowed Embiid to make back-to-back all defensive teams.
Best NBA Big Man
Based on the arguments presented above on both sides of the floor, the better big man between the two and perhaps, the best big man in the entire NBA is, Joel Embiid.
Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships.
Jokic’s playmaking ability at his position is second to none.
The second best playmaker at that position is arguably, Joel Embiid.
Joel Embiid is a 7-foot-2 All-Defensive Team center who can do this pic.twitter.com/pwnANXUyNA
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 13, 2021
While both are certainly talented, Embiid has the nod over Jokic.
His play on both sides of the ball is the difference between the two.
Joel Embiid is on pace to be in the MVP conversation this season.
One important note to keep in mind is that the Nuggets offense is solely based off of Nikola Jokic.
When watching Denver, it appears that when Jokic is on the court, he touches the ball nearly every single possession.
As supposed to Philadelphia, who has an incredible playmaker at the point guard position in Ben Simmons.
While Embiid has a heavy usage rate, he is doing more with less touches.
I think most general managers wouldn’t mind have either one at the center position, but, Embiid’s defensive presence can make all the difference in a playoff series.
It simply comes down to this.
What do you want, a skill two-way player or offensive brilliance?
The answer is the better overall player: Joel Embiid.