Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid needs to stop settling

Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers All-NBA center is taking fewer shots at the rim, more mid-range jumpers and more three’s. As a result, his efficiency is suffering.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid had the worst game of his young NBA career on Monday against the Toronto Raptors. He shot 0-11 from the field, 0-4 from the 3 point line and 0-3 from the free throw line. He finished with 0 points.

Since then, he’s been rightfully bashed by the media. A player with MVP aspirations, who called himself the most dominant player in the league, can’t have games like that. When he was asked about his performance the following day, he gave an answer that left a bit to be desired, per the Associated Press.

"‘”I would have never thought I would be here talking about zero points in an NBA game, but it is what it is. Some nights you make shots, some nights you don’t. Some nights you’re hot, some nights you’re cold.”‘"

Not exactly the fiery response one might expect from the league’s most prominent trash talker.

Let’s be clear: he won’t have another game this year with 0 points. He’s still a top-10 player in the NBA and could very well lead the Sixers to the finals this year. None of that has changed, but this game was more than a concern. It signals a bit of an offensive trend for Joel this season: he’s settling.

This is the percent of Embiid’s field goal attempts by distance

Shooting Table
% of% of% of% of% of% of

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2019.

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Embiid is one of the largest players in the NBA. He dominates the paint and he’s still shooting 68.4 percent within three feet, a fine number. The Sixers are at their best when he gets the ball in deep and is able to attack without having to take a dribble. When the game is on the line, this is the type of play Brett Brown will draw up, as evidenced by his game winning dunk versus the Cavaliers.

It would be dishonest to say that Embiid taking more jumpers has been all bad. Embiid’s efficiency in the mid-range has increased significantly since last year and his 3-point percentage has climbed as well. His resurgent confidence in taking 2-point jumpers has come with increased confidence behind the 3-point line. It’s also comes with decreased efficiency.

Embiid’s true shooting percentage of 55.7 percent is the lowest it’s been in his career. Before this year, it hadn’t been below 57.3. In order for that number to creep up, he might not just have to be better, but he might have to change the types of shots he’s taking.

His offensive versatility is a plus and will allow head coach Brett Brown more flexibility come playoff time. However, Embiid is most effective right next to the rim and there’s no reason those shots should dip by 7.0 percent.

Next. GRADES: Sixers 97, Kings 91. dark

Navigating new roles in a revamped roster was never expected to be seamless. The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t built to win pretty, but will need to allow their biggest bully more opportunities to use his strength.