Embiid's (less) Risky Style: Part 3, Free the 3 pointer

Part 3, following up on my earlier posts following the style of play development of one Joel Embiid.


  1. Embiid's Risky" style
  2. Embiid's (less) Risky Style and Progress
  3. Embiid's (less) Risky Style: Part 3, Free the 3 pointer
  4. Embiid's (less) Risky Style: Part 4, For Ben's sake, free the the 3

In "Embiid's Risky" style I focused on Embiid and the Sixers reducing the injury risk for the big man by developing a style of play with less high risk motions and moves.

In Embiid's (less) Risky Style and Progress I observed how Embiid HAS modified and is modifying the all out high risk style of play we saw in his rookie 31 game season and at the start of this season. He seems to be playing more controlled and pacing himself better and starting to develop a bit of a pattern to his inside game.

Embiid still hasn't developed that unstoppable bread and butter go-to move that most all time greats seem to settle on but that's probably because he has so many moves to choose from. Its hard to pick just one. It is true that slowly but surely we're seeing a bit less of the all out break neck sprints that send him crashing into the crowds behind the baskets.

Give Brett Brown and the coaching staff some credit here as Embiid increases his chances to stay on the floor by adjusting his on court style of play, simplifying it and playing more like a big man rather than a 7'2" guard.

There is one area where I'd like to see Embiid be a little more guard-like. Taking the 3. We're seeing it more and more mixed into the game of elite centers like Demarcus Cousins. Cousins has become a true 3-level offensive monster, dangerous from the post, on the slash AND from behind the arc.

There's been a big change in fact taking place in the way teams take full advantage of an elite 5 today. Teams of course are all trying to be the best GSW imitator they can but they can't all do it with the small ball Draymond Green rotation. The big center can now be elite with a strong 3 point shot as a major part of his offensive game.

What helps teams keep Embiid from truly dominating play on offense at time, when team is giving up a run, is that he's not being used yet in the "Dirk" Nowitzki + Hakeem + Shaq potential mode that he has.

There does appear to be more effort to get Joel real inside post shots and super high percentage shots at the rim.
This is certainly a good thing. Embiid's inside force game is critical to the Sixers success.

At the same time, let's not ignore that Joel has one of the most wet jumpers, even if it is more of a wet set shot, on the Sixers roster. At his size, he doesn't need to jump much if at all.

More importantly, Joel Embiid has "The Clutch Gene". He's one of the few Sixers you want taking a big shot or opening up a shot for you team by being the main threat for making a big shot. He can make free throws, and he can make clutch free throws.

The Sixers have clearly been working to make a dominant post force. This is great. It should be Embiid's bread and butter at 7'2" with all his talent, BUT, yes the BUTT is key here, Embiid's inner Dirk should not neglected by the Sixers.

He's been good inside and of course good defensive teams (like the Celtics) focus on that and take it away.
Embiid is not build like Shaquille O'Neal, or even a tank like Demarcus Cousins. Joel is not like a Shaq in terms of being able run as many people over as he needs to (and not like Shaq that could knock people around without getting a lot offensive fouls.

Embiid falls down and can be pushed much easier than a Shaq. Shaq was never a thin body like Joel Embiid.
Embiid is still learning how to handle his late growth spurt, late size spurt body and probably will be for a long time.

He had a different body type for most of life.

If anything I personally think the Sixers should pick their spots and let Joel really take deliberate 3's at key times.
This has the added of benefit of also reducing Embiid's more risky plays giving a better chance at a Dirk-like longevity in the game.

Free the 3.

Its not that Embiid isn't taking 3's its that its not clear if they are coming in the flow of the offense, deliberately, setting him up and picking the spots when to use them. No one can effectively guard an Embiid 3 pointer without opening up their defense for really, really bad things. To get up on that 7'2" set shot you need to get really close, and/or be really big or jump really high and for the most part you're just not going to do much more than watch Joel take the shot.

Granted, Embiid shoots them poorly at times but I'm going to throw out his 1 for 5 at Boston. I'm not sure how well his hand is doing and frankly he started out the Boston/London game shooting poorly overall. More importantly the way this team currently melts down on leads feeling out Embiid on a few more 3's when the offense bogs down couldn't possibly hurt them.

At some point the Sixers are going to have to figure a way to free their offense against the Big Bad Celtics in the process generation if they are going to live up their expectations. They have to go through Boston.

Celtics dominate the 2nd half against the Sixers.

Then the third quarter happened. Philadelphia is one of the worst third quarter teams in the NBA, and Boston took well advantage of that, turning over the Sixers 19 times. Holding Joel Embiid to 6-17 shooting also helps, and it seems that the Celtics do a solid job on the Sixers’ center on a consistent basis.

Keep Joel working on his 3.
Make the Aron Baynes and Al Horfords of the world have to worry more about this.

The Sixers could especially use this for instance during these 'dry spells' when they are up 20+ or bunch-a-points and then suddenly, as happens in basketball, they can't seem to get a bucket out of their preferred offense.

Embiid doesn't go on the 3 point streaks he went on the 1st (31 game) season he played for instance.
During that 1st season, I presume the coaching staff didn't have enough time to reign Joel in and get him work the disciplined offense. The result was Embiid seemed a lot more free to go on a 3 point binge now and then.

For a while during that stretch Joel was putting up those Jason Tatum %. To do that the player has to feel authorized and relaxed to do that within the offense. He has to be allowed to miss a streak so that later he can go on and have a make-a-streak. See Covington, see Reddick, see Curry, see every good 3 point shooter.

Brett Brown and company need to find a way to work this into their offensive sets. Philly has Ben Simmons being great on most everything except perimeter shooting and absolutely turriible as Barkley would say as any sort of remote 3 point threat. They have the 3rd core piece of "The Process" fruits sitting out and who may still recovering his shot from shoulder imbalance for who knows how long.

The movement to free Embiid's 3. The offense needs it. If they're going to blow as many big leads as the games move in the clutch as they are clearly blowing this season, at least let your super star get off a few shots from behind the arc and lose it that way rather than on turnovers or clearly well defended bad shots.

Great work adjusting your style and playing more healthy Joel. Now pick your spots, channel your inner Dirk and Free the Three!

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