Philadelphia 76ers: Who benefits most during Joel Embiid’s absence?

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With Joel Embiid suffering an injury to his left ring finger, which player on the Philadelphia 76ers will reap the most benefits from his absence?

Joel Embiid‘s injury to his left ring finger is the most recent reason that the Philadelphia 76ers starting five cannot play together and improve chemistry. The Sixers play two different styles of play when Embiid is in the lineup versus when he is out. A number of teammates can benefit and grow during his absence, but I believe the biggest beneficiary will be Tobias Harris.

Its no secret that the Sixers’ pace of play picks up when Embiid is on the bench. Ben Simmons is able to run more fast breaks without being concerned about running Embiid out of the play. That has been a key concern of head coach Brett Brown’s in trying to create more of a half court offense for this team.

Simmons’ fast breaks frees up more open shots on the perimeter and spaces the floor which fits more with Harris’ catch and shoot strength. When Harris is knocking down perimeter shots, it forces defenders to play him more honest.

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He will be defended by power forwards now playing the four position which will make it easier for him to drive past slower defenders and get to the hoop. Another result of power forwards guarding Harris outside of the paint, is more open space in the lane for Al Horford‘s back to the basket play and Simmons’ drives.

The $180 million contract the Sixers signed Harris to this past summer, seemingly choosing him over Jimmy Butler, now seems to be a questionable move.

The numbers suggest Harris is having a slightly better statistical season than last year, but many expected a larger jump. Harris no longer has to share the third option role with Butler and is expected to be an important leader on and off the court. It does not appear Harris has grasped this role just yet.

However, I believe Embiid’s injury provides Harris the perfect opportunity to step into being the player the 76ers need him to be in order to be Championship contenders. Whether the Sixers go on a winning or losing streak with Embiid on the bench, the media will build up trade talk and discuss team chemistry.

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Now more than ever, the Philadelphia76ers need Harris to become the knock down shooter and leading scorer for this under achieving team without Embiid. Over the next few weeks, keep an eye on Harris’ play and see if he wants the ball in crunch time.