Joel Embiid’s case for NBA Clutch Player of the Year
Joel Embiid is 29 years old and in the prime of his career. It seems like he is continuing to get better in noticeable ways which may sound like hyperbole or fan fiction but it has happened right before our very eyes this season. In 36 games played, Embiid led the Sixers to the record 23-13, 3.6 points on 487/.308/.869 shooting splits, 2.1 shot attempts per game, and 1.7 free throw attempts. Embiid’s impact is pretty distinguishable on both ends. The plus-minus of Joel Embiid in clutch minutes is 2.8 this season. That is tied for the lead among superstar-type players, Kevin Durant’s plus-minus is 2.8 as well. Plus-minus has been a positive Embiid stat for his entire career and here is no different.
Embiid has had a spectacular year as a clutch player. He is tasked with the job of being the pulse of the offense and the anchor of the defense. The regular All-NBA player has had many moments this year that have been incredibly clutch. Embiid’s skills have been riveting to watch this season. He has been great at establishing his position in the post at around 15 feet, preferably in the middle of the court or on the left side. Then defensively, Embiid plays the drop coverage with some more aggression and wits this season. He has been timing lobs to tip them away or to turn, recover, and meet a guy at the rim to deny the shot.
De’Aaron Fox is the clear front-runner and I sincerely want to ask how Joel Embiid isn’t a finalist for the award over Jimmy Butler or DeMar DeRozan. For the Philadelphia 76ers, Embiid attracts more attention on offense than either player possibly forcing shots to be more contested, has a much better plus-minus, led his team to a better winning percentage, played like the most important and best defensive player on his team, and was neck in neck with the two wing players with scoring and their shooting percentages. It is truly mind-boggling that a player that passes the eye test and the numbers test like Embiid was left off this list. I believe that the voters got this one wrong but, at least this is the award’s first year. Many more for Embiid to win in its early history.