Sixers Stars Among NBA Leaders in Eye-Popping Statistic

Joel Embiid James Harden

Getty James Harden (left) and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

When the Philadelphia 76ers traded for James Harden at last year’s trade deadline, the NBA’s newest lethal duo had formed. With Joel Embiid being a perennial MVP candidate, pairing him with the All-Star point guard created a lethal one-two punch.

While some might argue Harden has lost a step, he is still one of the most high-impact players in the game right now. Between his elite-level facilitating and still being able to catch fire as a scorer, defenses are forced to give him a lot of attention.

When Harden and Embiid are on the floor together, opponents are forced to pick their poison. Both stars command a lot of gravity from the defense, and the numbers back it up.

The people at BBall Index recently ranked the top ten players based on their on-ball gravity metric, and the Sixers All-Stars ranked in the top five. Embiid landed second overall, while Harden came in at fourth. Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic is the only player who commands more attention than the MVP runner-up. The Sixers were also the only team to have two players in the top ten.

Now that they’ve had some time to acclimate themselves, the Sixers All-Stars could have the best two-man game in the league moving forward.

East Exec Believes Joel Embiid is ‘Deserving’ of MVP Award

Over the past two years, Joel Embiid has taken his game to new heights en route to cementing himself in the upper echelon of NBA superstars. Despite his dominance over this stretch, one thing continues to barely escape him. That being the MVP award.

In 2021, missed games proved to be the Achilles heel in Embiid’s campaign. However, despite playing in a career-high 68 games, he still finished as the runner-up to Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic. On top of increasing his availability, Embiid also averaged his highest PPG (30.6) and APG (4.2) marks.

With the start of a new season around the corner, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps surveyed executives and scouts league-wide. While gathering votes on who will win MVP this year, one Eastern Conference exec cited how deserving Embiid is. 

Embiid picked up four votes, and was mentioned by several other voters. The 76ers big man is coming off two close MVP finishes behind Jokic, and Philadelphia added players around him and James Harden as the duo eyes a bounce-back season in 2022-23.

“They’ll have a good regular season, and I think people will think he deserves it,” an Eastern Conference executive said of Embiid.

Sixers Listed Among Offseason Winners

Another question in the survey was which organization had the best offseason. With their additions of De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House Jr., and P.J. Tucker, the Sixers found themselves in second place. Only the Boston Celtics received more votes from them.

Philadelphia was praised, in similar fashion, for being able to address some weaknesses this summer by adding P.J. TuckerDanuel House and De’Anthony Melton.

“They plugged holes,” a West scout said. “I don’t think it made them the best team, but they addressed their weaknesses pretty well.”

While it wasn’t a new addition, the most crucial move of the Sixers’ offseason was re-signing James Harden at a more team-friendly price tag. Without this, Daryl Morey would not have been able to go out and land the pair of veteran forwards in free agency.

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