A couple days before Christmas Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid raised eyebrows when he said he doesn’t like shooting 3’s. It was kind of ironic. If you ever listen to broadcasters (not named Marc Zumoff or Alaa Abdelnaby) call a Sixers game it feels as if they invariably mention how the Kansas product loves to shoot 3’s and talk trash on social media.
For the Sixers, it appears that to truly maximize their core of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid that the big man is going to have to sacrifice a little bit and play some stretch-five at times.
He was shooting 27.5% when he said it. He made a minor adjustment and he’s shot 39% since on his next 46 shots ,which has his average up over 30 percent on the season. It’s a small sample and may be random but the film reveals he has made a change.
Let’s take a look at his deep ball in this in depth video:
First half 3 point shooting 34.1%
Second half: 29.1%
In Catch and shoot situations: 32.8%
All situations from 3: 30.6%
Last 46 attempts (since Christmas): 18/46, 39.1%
Part of the reason he says he does not like shooting so many 3’s per Tim Bontemps is because it lowers his overall shooting percentage.
“His cold shooting from the perimeter is also preventing Embiid from doing something he says he should be doing every single game: shooting over 50 percent from the field. The past two games, he’s shooting 62.5 percent.
“I feel like my efficiency is getting back to where it should be,” Embiid said. “Part of the problem that I see with myself is, I should never shoot under 50 percent and I do it a lot.
“It’s all about getting my efficiency back and I feel like shooting 3s had a lot to do with me shooting under 50 percent.”
If you watched the video above (which was compiled mostly in chronological order) you can see that Joel’s shot has looked better recently. When he gets around 6 feet of room to measure a shot he’s able to take a small jump forwards and land without needing to balance himself by stepping to the left. Maybe he can begin to enjoy shooting them a bit more now.
To my eye it appears that his best form is when he:
- fully extends and freezes (as noted in the video above about 8/10 of his made 3’s come when he freezes his shooting arm through the make without dropping it down early). This helps to calibrate the appropriate depth perception and also gives a player a sense of how to adjust if need be.
- hops or steps into the shot for a bit of forwards momentum rather than catching with one foot planted. (Exception here being the corners where you don’t have room for that).
- takes a very small jump forwards and lands without needing to balance himself
Likely these are a few of the things he’s worked on with his trainer Drew Hanlen.
This heat map isn’t completely up to date but it gives you the gist of how the team is using him as a floor spacer per AustinClemens.com:
As you can see most of his attempts come from the top of the key and wings. Likely that’s for spacing issues and to pull his defender away from protecting the rim. That also gives him a better chance to get back on defense than if he were hidden in the corner.
If the 24-year old can maintain the form he has displayed over his last 46 attempts it could be the key to unlocking more lineups that include all three of Simmons, Butler, and Embiid.
Per Zach Lowe recently, the trio was only being used for about 17 minutes per game. They’ll need more of it in order to make the NBA Finals.
Finally, here is a fun chart to browse compliments of Liberty Ballers’ own Andrew Patton. It includes makes and misses charted by distance:
Enjoy the video and the stats and let me know what you think in the comments or on twitter.