Joel Embiid responds to DeMarcus Cousins’ ‘compliment’

Joel Embiid 76ers Celtics London
Apr 8, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Injured Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) practices prior to a game against the New York Knicks at Wells Fargo Center. The New York Knicks won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins paid Joel Embiid a compliment with a twist following the Sacramento Kings 102-100 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

“I don’t give a lot of people props, but I like that kid a lot,” Cousins said, via Keith Pompey of Philly.com. “I think he’s got a great chance of being the best big in this league. …after I retire.”

Embiid’s response agreed with Cousins, but only to an extent.

“I don’t think I’m going to have to wait until he retires to be the best in the league,” the young Sixers center said on Wednesday.

Well, the seemingly skippable January 30 game between these two teams has an added layer of intrigue now.

Embiid and Cousins had quite a duel during the team’s December 26 game in Sacramento.

The Philadelphia center scored 25 points with eight rebounds, two blocks, two steals and an assist in 29 minutes. His Sacramento counterpart played 34 minutes, putting up 30 points, seven boards, and two blocks, five assists and three steals. One of Cousins’ blocks came on a would be game-winning three from Embiid in the final seconds.

Embiid still has a way to go to reach Cousins’ level. But the 76ers’ center is four years younger than Cousins and has a lot more potential development to do. The challenge for Embiid has been getting on the court. After all, while he was drafted in 2014, he missed two full seasons — making this is technically his rookie year. But his game is solid and has room to improve.

Cousins may have to make improvements of his own. Otherwise, Embiid may not have to wait long at all.