One of the NBA’s greatest mysteries has been solved. Why is Joel Embiid so adept at drawing fouls? It’s a calculated science which one Philadelphia 76ers teammate likened to a “chess match.”
Embiid gets to the charity stripe a lot and leads the league in free-throw shot attempts at 11.32 per game. The next closest big man is Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat (6.08). The way he goes about doing it is demoralizing for opposing centers as he purposefully baits them into fouls.
“My goal, every single night, is to get the other centers or the other team’s best players in foul trouble,” Embiid said, via Liberty Ballers. “When you talk about drawing fouls, a lot of people, I guess, call it flopping and all that stuff. But, you know, the way I see it is just about being smarter than your opponent.”
The jovial 7-footer owns an 85.1% shooting percentage from the free-throw line which ranks 38th overall in the NBA and third-best among qualifying centers. Embiid also has the unnerving ability to get under people’s skin with his playful banter and — how do you say? — amateur acting skills.
“He plays chess matches on the court,” teammate Dwight Howard said. “He does a good job of using his body, getting physical, but then he does a good job also of not allowing somebody to be physical with him because he knows how to draw fouls.”
Dwight Howard Plays with ‘Heavy Heart’
When Sixers head coach Doc Rivers complimented Howard for playing with a “heavy heart” on Monday night, no one was quite sure what the reserve center was experiencing. Howard suited up and toughed out 26 minutes in a throwback performance where he muscled his way to 14 points and 12 rebounds.
“He was playing with a heavy heart out there tonight,” Rivers told reporters after the Sixers’ 134-123 loss to Utah. “So, I just have the ultimate amount of respect for him. We’re here for him as a team to uplift him and make sure he’s in good spirits.”
On Wednesday, the 17-year veteran revealed that his 97-year-old grandmother, Gussie Howard, had passed away. He received the news on Monday morning and decided to play in the game anyway. Embiid sat out with back tightness.
“I just wanted to go out there and play as hard as I could,” Howard told reporters, “and let them know that no matter what goes on in my life, I’ll always give this team and this organization all of me. I just appreciate them so much.”
G-League Player Wins Player of the Week
The NBA G-League just wrapped up their first week back in action and a young Sixers player already has racked up an accolade. Paul Reed, the 58th pick in the 2020 NBA draft, was named Player of the Week for games played during the first week of the 2021 NBA G League season, which began Feb. 10.
The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 24.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 33.0 minutes per game for the Delaware Blue Coats. Reed is on a two-way contract and there’s always a chance he gets called up to the big club. Philly could use a stretch forward to help space the floor and have been loosely linked to Nemanja Bjelica (Sacramento Kings) and P.J. Tucker (Houston Rockets).