“Can’t Trap Nikola Jokic as Much as a Joel Embiid”: Knicks’ Isaiah Hartenstein Has His Say on Difference in Defending 2023 MVP Leaders

Akash Murty
|Published 19/03/2023

Joel Embiid has been on a tear for the past couple of months. Not only is he leading the NBA in scoring for a second straight season, but the Sixers big man has also taken the #1 spot in the 2023 MVP ladder from the Nuggets’ big, Nikola Jokic.

Leading his team to a season-high 8-0 win streak, Embiid has been monstrous since the start of this month after missing a game against the Miami Heat.

In the 9 games he has played out of Sixers’ last 10, the Cameroonian has averaged 35.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 2.2 blocks per game on shooting 62% from the field and 45.5% from the 3-point line.

Even still some other centers in the league feel it’s easier to defend Embiid than The Joker.

“You can’t trap Nikola Jokic as much as a Joel”: Isaiah Hartenstein

Isaiah Hartenstein has been one of the best role players for the Knicks playing as a solid backup center after his move from the Clippers following a career-best season.

After a significant performance in stopping Nikola Jokic and Co on Saturday, he had his say on who is more difficult to stop between two league-leading big men.

“It’s different [guarding Jokic],” Hartenstein said according to New York Daily News. “The difference between him and Embiid is his passing. I think that’s hard for teams to defend. Because you can’t trap him as much as a Joel.”

The man said it after outworking Jokic. His 6 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block might have been quarter-worth stats the Serbian and Cameroonian bigs have been putting up. But the impact he had in just 21 minutes of the game was crucial for the Knicks’ 116-110 win.

How do the Knicks look for the 2023 post-season?

After disappointing their fans in the last season, finishing 11th in the East, they would not want to just finish in the top-6 and get swept in the first round like the 2021 Playoffs.

They didn’t bring in Jalen Brunson from the Dallas Mavericks for that. They want to win and they want to win now. Giving the point guard a $100 million contract despite having no All-Star appearance under his name was proof of their urgency.

Hartenstein also got paid top dollars with the $18 million two-year contract he received for being a role player. A 42-30 record with their recent form, it looks like those moves are paying off for now, let’s see how it translates into the postseason.

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About the author
Akash Murty

Akash Murty

An Electrical and Electronics Engineer by degree, Akash Murty is an NBA Editor at The SportsRush. Previously a Software Engineer, Murty couldn’t keep himself away from sports, and his knack for writing and putting his opinion forward brought him to the TSR. A big Soccer enthusiast, his interest in basketball developed late, as he got access to a hoop for the first time at 17. Following this, he started watching basketball at the 2012 Olympics, which transitioned to NBA, and he became a fan of the game as he watched LeBron James dominate the league. Him being an avid learner of the game and ritually following the league for around a decade, he now writes articles ranging from throwbacks, and live game reports, to gossip. LA Lakers are his favourite basketball team, while Chelsea has his heart in football. He also likes travelling, reading fiction, and sometimes cooking.

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