clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who are the Sixers without Joel Embiid?

When the big man isn’t playing, the team has a completely different identity.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid is the driving force behind whatever success the Sixers have, whether it be right now or down the line. It’s obvious that when he isn’t involved the team is just not the same. Sure, other big men step up to try and fill the void Embiid leaves, but opponents don’t take the team as seriously without the big man in the middle.

There’s a reason why the two years Embiid was out with several injuries were so painfully bad, it’s because the Sixers were missing a go-to man that they needed. Having complimentary players who can take control of a game is incredibly important as well, but we have seen the lack of star power when Embiid sits this year, and that is something that role players can’t fix. Ben Simmons has shown why he could be the next big thing in the NBA, but he is still figuring things out and will take a little more time. Joel Embiid is already one of the best big men in the league, and without him on the court the Sixers lose their identity.

Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings showed exactly how different the team is with and without Embiid. A young team will always have their flaws, but without a reliable scorer down low the Sixers showed exactly how many flaws they have. Forcing unnecessary shots from deep, the seasons-long struggle of turnovers, and being outplayed underneath are all things that led to an unacceptable loss to an underwhelming team.

Every team is going to get caught in a rut at some point over such a long season, and here the Sixers are. But this slide has shown the team who they truly are without their superstar center: mediocre. It pains me to say this, but right now the Sixers can’t be trusted to win games without Joel Embiid. The offense just has a different feeling. With Embiid playing there is an unmatched energy , but when he’s out everyone seems lost. On defense, if Zach Randolph can still consistently dominate you at his age, the team as a whole is in a lot of trouble.

Better days are ahead, Simmons looks the part of a revolutionary player, Markelle Fultz is getting healthier, and eventually shots will start dropping again. But without Joel Embiid consistently on the floor, the team will always be a step behind. I’ve never been the one to call for a firing or an extreme shakeup to the lineup, but it’s at the point where a team can only keep making the same mistakes so many times without a need for change.

Joel has shown how much he can dominate in only a small sample size. When he can play a full season, without the need for restrictions, that is when the Sixers can reach their full potential. Call this what you want, an overreaction, a rant after a bad loss, or just mounting frustration, but the Sixers need to figure out how to play without Embiid. Ben Simmons does some heavy lifting, but one player can only do so much.

Side Note: Long live Spencer Hawes’ mullet.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Liberty Ballers Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Philadelphia 76ers news from Liberty Ballers