Brett Brown Defense Part V: Center Joel Embiid Key

Brett Brown’s defense was born from the schemes of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovish. The key to the Spurs strong defense, solid play at center. For Brett Brown’s defense to work to its potential in Philly, Joel Embiid is the key.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown committed to rookie center Joel Embiid anchoring the teams defense before the season had ever begun.

While there were no guarantees to Embiid’s defensive acumen, Brown understood the right buttons to push. Joel Embiid is a high performance player who needs the bar set just out of his reach.  Setting the team defense upon Embiid’s shoulders not only created a stretch goal for the 7-foot-2 center, but made him aware of the play of his teammates.

Good Start

Initially, there were signs of very positive results:

Great Run

But nobody could have, should have, expected this:

Joel Embiid is delivering all that was asked of him, and more.  And he does it in ways that makes it seem easy.  You see, he is incredibly versatile and athletic.  He has incredible range and reach for a big man. And he is a veteran of just 28 NBA games so far.

Just wow.

Roll the Tape

And he plays bigger than his 7-foot-2 presence.

When you check out the video, you can see his amazingly balanced footwork.  Brown’s defense focuses upon defending the basket, the paint, and then the perimeter. If you have Joel Embiid on the court, wings can orbit further from the basket, allowing for better challenges to three-point shooters on the opposition.

Defend The Process

Embiid is a natural NBA defender. He has good footwork, remains facing the ball handler.  He makes good use of hands, probing for steals, outwards to block passing lanes and upwards to block shots.  When he defends off-ball, he is constantly working for better position and leverage.

Unlike many who can score, he seems to be especially focused on defense, as though he enjoys the true mano e mano nature of guarding the ball-handler.

Brown’s defense can absorb less than stellar play at other positions, but he must have a great defender at center to make things happen.  Interpret that how you will for the center logjam eventual resolution, but for now, Brett Brown’s defense needs Joel Embiid to work.

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