Joel Jokic: Getting over the hump, with or without Embiid
To his credit, Joel Embiid has added aspects to his offensive game that make him unguardable…in the regular season. What if Embiid worked on his passing game in the offseason and became more of a high-post passer the way Nikola Jokic does in Denver? Before you dismiss this transformative possibility to Embiid’s game by using a lack of instinct as an excuse, you must examine how the Nuggets use Jokic on offense.
Mike Malone encourages the 2X MVP to make the long outlet pass. He is also encouraged to hit cutters in the half-court set. Should Embiid begin this summer, adding this critical skill to his game, it could reap benefits in the postseason when teams collapse on him. The idea of Embiid going from a primary scoring mindset to a pass-first mentality would take adjustment for everyone, but imagine the benefits.
A balanced attack on offense and easier baskets would alleviate stress as the shot clock runs down, instead of Embiid rushing a bad shot or being swarmed by quicker defenders. This was a huge detriment to the Sixers in multiple playoff series. Shifting Embiid to become a passing big man would get others involved in the offense, as opposed to guys just standing around, waiting for shot opportunities.
Easier said than done, of course. Yet, to gain something this franchise has not won in forty-plus years, their star could try something new that he’s never tried before. It could be ugly in the beginning, but a passing Embiid could survive through regular season growing pains and ideally turn into something opposing teams have yet to see against the Sixers after so many failed playoff appearances.