These 4 players must step up for the 76ers in Joel Embiid's absence

The Sixers are struggling without their perennial MVP center. These four players can keep the team afloat.

Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid
Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield joined the Sixers in a trade deadline deal / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The Sixers acquired Buddy Hield at the trade deadline with the hope that his floor spacing could give Joel Embiid more room to operate in the post. However, the best version of the 76ers features Hield doing much more than just providing spacing with his three-point shooting.

Hield is an underappreciated secondary creator, and if he can excel in this role it will do wonders for the team’s offense. Hield’s creation abilities can take pressure off of the team’s stars, namely Embiid and Maxey.

However, Hield’s presence might be most important to a player not named Embiid or Maxey. If the shooting guard out of Oklahoma can average around 20 points per game with high efficiency, it will significantly reduce the pressure on Tobias Harris. Without James Harden or Jimmy Butler around, Harris is being counted on to be the team’s third option offensively.

While he is capable of filling this role at times, he is somewhat inconsistent and the pressure of filling this role may be contributing to his volatility. If Hield can be the third option and Harris drops to fourth in the pecking order, it could pay dividends for the veteran forward in terms of improved numbers and increased confidence. 

Hield should get close to 10 open looks per game once Embiid is back on the court due to the attention the team’s two stars will command. If he can convert these looks at a 40% clip, that’s 12 points right there. If he is on a hot streak, he might hit six or seven of them, putting him at or above the 20-point threshold right there with excellent efficiency.

Hield can leverage the respect opposing defenders will give to his shooting to get them off-balance and drive to the rim or pull up for a short jumper. If he does this four times per game and scores at a 75% clip, that’s another six points. Based on his baseline threes, that would be 18 points in total. Add in a couple of free throws or an extra-made shot, and that’s 20 on excellent efficiency. 

This is achievable and would unlock the best version of the 76ers’ offense.