Joel Embiid has taken a leap this season. He’s rightfully garnered a lot of attention as a result, and has now been named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December and January. It’s Embiid’s second Player of the Month honor for his career, and he joins fellow center and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic this month, who received the selection for the Western Conference.
There’s no doubt that Embiid has been playing at an MVP level for the Sixers this season. He’s been a dominant force at both ends of the floor, putting up some of the best numbers of his career with some significant improvements to his game and better efficiency than ever. In 31.6 minutes per game, Embiid is averaging 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks. He’s also leading the NBA with a career-high 11.3 free throw attempts per game (making 84 percent), which has played a key part in him upping his True Shooting Percentage to a phenomenal 66.9 percent.
While he may have some shooting regression and won’t keep shooting his current clip of 53.9 percent from mid-range all season, he’s still been a dominant scorer. Embiid is overwhelming teams in the post, and picking apart his opponents from the elbows and the middle of the floor as well, where he’s been used more in what Doc Rivers calls the Sixers’ “Delay” action.
Embiid has had a host of standout performances through the season so far. From his perfect 20-point third quarter to turn around a game against Miami, to the 40 points he averaged across two outings against Boston, to the 37 points he had in just under 27 minutes against Minnesota last week.
Joel Embiid's 3rd quarter against Miami yesterday was incredible.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) January 13, 2021
20 points (8/8 FG, 4/4 FT)
3 assists (1 TOV)
He just completely took over to turn the game around. pic.twitter.com/AfS8EiGJas
In addition to his improved conditioning and great defense, Embiid’s development as a passer has been an important part of his success. He’s taken a big step forward in this area, as he continues to make quicker reads against doubles, keep the ball moving with timely kick-outs even when he isn’t picking up assists, and use his immense gravity to open up space for others.
Joel Embiid has continued to develop his passing and handling of double teams this season, which has only been helped by the Sixers' new shooters.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) January 6, 2021
Here's a quick video breakdown showing a few examples of Embiid's early success as a passer, and the impact of his gravity: pic.twitter.com/2hGTKKDmTC
The Sixers are 14-2 in the games Embiid has played. In 506 minutes when he’s been on the floor, they also have a stellar +13 net rating. In 507 minutes without him, that number falls all the way to -4.03. On-off numbers can be noisy, especially so early in a season, but it’s clear how impactful Embiid has been when following the Sixers every game. This is just another indicator of how good he’s been and how valuable he is.
It’s safe to say Embiid earned his Player of the Month selection.