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Sixers Mailbag: Are Simmons and Embiid All-Stars?

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Plus: Who is in the Sixers’ Real World house?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just about 15% of the way through the season, and the Sixers are a .500 team. Some losses were bad, but if you told me in the pre-season that the Sixers would be 6-6 after 12, I’d take it 100 times out of 100. Today essentially feels like an off day, with the week’s first edition of Sixers after dark tipping off against the Clippers at 10:30pm, so I figured we’d get into a quick, light, early season mailbag. Here we go:

I actually had this conversation with my brother - and briefly with Kyle Neubeck - two nights ago. The way this season is looking, the answer to the second part of the question is “definitely.” Joel Embiid was about as close to being an All-Star as you can be last year, so you’d think he’s a shoo-in as long as his numbers are relatively close to what they were last year. And he’s not a rookie anymore, that’s two pluses for JoJo.

BUT, if Ben Simmons keeps playing the way he’s playing, it feels like there’s no way he can be kept out of the All-Star Game. 17.4/9/7.8 on close to 50% shooting is an All-Star resume. Add his rookie status (in this case, assuming Ben doesn’t miss time with injury, it’s actually a plus), the hype, the story, and the fact that the only person to start a career the way Ben has is basically Oscar Robertson, then he has to be an All-Star.

But do Embiid and Simmons fit? For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume every healthy All-Star from last year’s team also makes it this year. Here was last year’s East roster, bolded for the keepers:

Kyrie Irving

DeMar DeRozan

LeBron James

Jimmy Butler

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Isaiah Thomas

John Wall

Kevin Love

Carmelo Anthony

Kyle Lowry

Paul George

Kemba Walker

Paul Millsap

There are five open spots. Kristaps Porzingis gets one. We’re own to four. Let’s finally give one to Bradley Beal. That leaves three. Victor Oladipo is 6th in the East in points, so he gets a spot. We’re down to two. If the team was picked today, those two spots probably go to some combo of Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford, maybe Marcus Smart, Simmons and Embiid. They have a much better chance if one of those bolded guys above misses time or falls off of a metaphorical stat-cliff. If I had to make a bet as to who would get those three spots, right now, I’d say Whiteside and Simmons, with Harris possibly being shafted by being less recognizable even thought the Pistons are playing really well.

Gotta go with the pure potential for chaos. Here’s the intro:

Doug Collins: This is the true story

Andrew Bynum: of seven strangers

Pat Croce: picked to live in a house

Allen Iverson: work together and have their lives taped

Sam Hinkie: to find out what happens

Joel Embiid: when people stop being polite

Big Shot: and start getting real

Together: The Real World, Sacramento.

I assume this question was asked with this year in mind, but let’s take a quick look at his stats when it comes to his shot getting deflected.

This season Joel Embiid’s shot has been blocked 9 times on 152 field goal attempts. That’s 5.9% of the time. Last season, Embiid’s show was blocked 36 times on 429 attempts. That’s 8.4% of the time. So he’s actually cut down on being blocked a ton this year.

Here’s how those percentages break down by shot distance:

Less than 5 ft.

  • This season: 9.4% (6 of 64)
  • Last season: 11.3% (20 of 177)

5 - 9 ft.

  • This season: 11.8% (2 of 17)
  • Last season: 11.4% (5 of 44)

10 - 14 ft.

  • This season: 3.4% (1 of 29)
  • Last season: 15.8% (9 of 57)

For the most part, Embiid has cut down on getting blocked, though his .9 per game isn’t great. The worst in the league, Dennis Smith Jr. (2.2 per game), has a height excuse (for what it’s worth Markelle Fultz is 3rd worst at 1.5). For players taller than 6-foot-10, Embiid still gets blocked less frequently than Jusuf Nurkic, DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, Hassan Whiteside, John Collins, Marc Gasol, Clint Capela, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Among all of those players, he’s 4th in field goals attempted, so not great but far from the league’s worst. Now, why?

In the Kings game, Willie Cauley-Stein just met him at the summit twice. Myles Turner read a 13-footer flawlessly and easily blocked Embiid’s jumper last week. He got “blocked” by Dirk once but it was really more of a strip. Tarik Black blocked Embiid from behind while he had two defenders in front of him, Ryan Anderson got credited for a block when JoJo straight up lost the ball, and Clint Capela read his moves pretty easily for a deflection in the Houston game. That’s most of them.

Joel Embiid is incredibly talented, but for the most part when he gets the ball (especially in the post) the defender knows he’s looking to score. Until he works on his passing out of the post more, especially on double teams, plus-defenders will be able to keep up with him and follow his moves. And when he takes a 10-14 foot jumper? He typically doesn’t pump fake on those too often and when he jumps he doesn’t leave the ground by much.

So in my eyes, it’s a combination of good defending and early predictability by Embiid.