Philadelphia 76ers: Rookie Center Joel Embiid’s Best Yet To Come

The play of Philadelphia 76ers rookie Joel Embiid has been turning heads all over the NBA. But he’s just getting started folks. His real value shows when the team plays in post season

The Philadelphia 76ers are happy. The fans of the Philadelphia 76ers are happy. Even the NBA entrenched executives are happy. The Philadelphia 76ers, buoyed by the stellar play of rookie center Joel Embiid, are winning in bunches now. The team is 6-2 in 2017, and have defeated three play-off caliber teams in this stretch, including a shocking victory over division leading Toronto Raptors.

So far, it’s elation in Philadelphia.  Joel Embiid has delivered on all the hype, and then some. However, there are four speeds in the NBA.

  • Practice – brisk walk to jog. educational speed to allow coaching and observation.
  • Preseason – 80% or so regular season speed. Effort to win without sacrificing body.
  • Regular season – NBA speed. Hard effort but intended to stretch over 82 games.
  • Post-season – all out. Nothing held back. Carpe diem. Full throttle.

So far, even on his greatest exertion, you’ve only seen Joel Embiid in NBA speed. But fast forward to next season, or the season after that.  Assume that the Philadelphia 76ers make the playoffs.

Power UP

Now you get Joel Embiid, but he just power up’d on you.

You see, Joel Embiid is problematic in the NBA, but especially deadly when you place him into a post season scenario. He’s an basketball center who plays like a stretch-five (he’s the first of his kind, I believe).  His range and wingspan clog up the lanes in the paint like few in the NBA.  He is fast, agile, balanced, and he has a great IQ. And to top it all off, he is getting better with each game film he can load and watch. You see, he improves by watching film too.

He can deliver solid offense at the post, but he can pull up and begin dropping threes.  In fact, his versatility makes it extremely difficult to lock in what he will do offensively.

But his true challenge to opponents is his defense.  He is fearless, and has a range that covers far more than an average player. It’s that range, and will, that makes him the key to Brett Browns’ defense.

How Do You Outcoach A Player Who Does Everything?

NBA offenses live on mismatches. How do you mismatch a powerhouse 7-foot-2 who can outmuscle at the post, but who is as agile as a cat? Now consider those long arms of the law and you can already envision the head-scratching-to-come.

But the ultimate challenge is the fierceness of Joel Embiids competitiveness.  Certainly, the best coaches and players will figure out plays, tendencies, and weakness on Joel Embiid, and exploit those.

But he doesn’t cower. Defeating Joel Embiid makes him angrier, more focused, and more determined.  After an embarrassing loss on national television to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Embiid called for revenge before the game was played.

That may have backfired, and placed him atop the NBA’s ridicule for the entire season. Instead, it fired up himself and his teammates.

Phillyball

The fans of Philadelphia are raw energy. Only a handful of professional sports athletes have managed to tap into that energy stream, and play the game like the fans want it to be played.

Joel Embiid has that gift.

Whether he’s exorcising all the trolls from the past, predicting a win when many believe the game will be certain defeat, or simply basking in the love and applause from the fans after a hard fought victory, he’s connected to the fans.

And perhaps that makes him the most dangerous player in post-season  in the NBA. He’s not playing for jewelry or trophies. He playing for the love and pride of a city.  He’s playing to validate the trust placed in him years before he would compete on an NBA basketball court.

He’s playing because the city of Philadelphia knows he is a champion.  And he knows this is his destiny.

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