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Joel Embiid leads Stein's Rookie of the Year race

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Can you remember the last truly compelling Rookie of the Year race in the NBA?

Seriously. Can you?

You have to rewind all the way to the 2009-10 season, when Tyreke Evans (strange as it sounds to say out loud now) beat out a certain fellow Northern California-based guard named Stephen Curry in a contentious vote, for an actual ROY race.

And we're certainly not getting one this season.

For all of his undeniable capacity to wow and entertain us, two aspects of Joel Embiid's long-awaited debut campaign for the Philadelphia 76ers are prone to bring you down.

1. Those stubborn restrictions on his playing time that have Embiid averaging just 23.8 minutes per game as a rook despite the fact he's clearly Philadelphia's best player already.

2. The sadder fact is that Embiid might be getting less of a push from the rest of the ROY field than Karl-Anthony Towns did last season. Which is hard to fathom.

Embiid, at last check, ranked first in the league in total points, second in total rebounds and first in total blocks among rookies ... while ranking 16th among them in minutes played.

He's scoring 27.8 points per 36 minutes, which would place him third all-time among rookies over the course of a whole season, behind only Michael Jordan and George Gervin and just ahead of Kevin Durant.

And get this: Entering Wednesday's play, Philadelphia had actually outscored opponents by 12 points in the 353 minutes that Embiid was on the floor. With Embiid off the floor in his first 15 games, Philly had been outscored by 194 points.

Apart from a few flurries out west from Denver's Jamal Murray -- who recently became the first rookie since James Harden in 2009-10 to post three 20-point showings off the bench in his first 20 games as a pro -- there sadly just isn't much else to add here about the NBA draft Class of 2016.

The Knicks' Willy Hernangomez is the only other rookie, besides Embiid, who awoke Friday with an above-average PER.

Perhaps we're being overly negative about this, but it feels justified season after season in a world where the hoopla surrounding the draft only gets bigger ... and yet you can count the immediate difference-makers on half of one hand.

Rant over, though. Let's celebrate the diverse skills that the self-proclaimed Mr. Process is stunningly showing us after two seasons of inactivity.

Embiid, remember, is shooting .422 from 3-point range on 19-for-45 marksmanship.

Not too shabby for a 7-footer.