Even as he is working to find his feet following an extended absence, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid continues to play at an MVP level. In Saturday night’s blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, he scored 27 points and added nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks to pace his team.
Embiid’s legs and three-point shot have yet to round back into form, but it’s hard to discount his overall production. His somewhat diminished state notwithstanding, Embiid remains a beast on the hardwood.
Still, even with a top-10 player manning the pivot, the Sixers need contributions from all of their big guns to be successful. In particular, Ben Simmons must continue to show out if the team hopes to realize its championship ambitions.
And not just on the defensive side of the floor, either.
According to Embiid, Simmons should force the issue offensively in spite of his shortcomings when he’s not within a few feet of the tin.
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Embiid Calls For Aggressiveness From Simmons
During the six-game stretch from the day of the trade deadline to April 4, Simmons had been scuffling offensively. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged just 10 points with a true shooting percentage well under 50 over that span.
Consequently, the Sixers were outscored by 7.1 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor despite his defensive mastery on the perimeter.
More recently, though, Simmons has been a more potent scorer. When asked after the OKC game if that was something he would like to see more of, Embiid left little mystery about his feelings.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” he answered, via The Philadelphia Inquirer. “First of all, I want him to be aggressive every single game, whether he is making plays or whether he should look for his shot, he has to be aggressive and make guys on the other team guard him.”
Against the Thunder, Simmons surprisingly pulled up and knocked down a pair of jump shots, one from nine feet away from the hoop and the other from 14 feet away. Embiid couldn’t help but get hyped over his running mate’s willingness to deviate from his usual means of attack.
“Like tonight, we saw it, I was really excited when he made those two shots,” he said. “He is starting to be comfortable, he is getting back to where he was right before the All-Star break, so he has to keep doing it.”
Simmons Also Limited Turnovers
In addition to taking (and making) jump shots in the contest, Simmons also did something that he hadn’t accomplished since February. Specifically, he didn’t commit any turnovers in the game.
While Simmons’ turnover totals will almost always be higher than most as Philly’s primary ball-handler and facilitator, he has the occasional tendency to play overly loose with the ball. In the 11 games leading up to Saturday’s win, he committed six or more turnovers in a game on five occasions.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers would clearly like to see more efforts on-par with the OKC game.
“That’s how he has to be every night, have a better understanding of the flow of the game, which I didn’t think as a team we understood that [Friday in a loss at New Orleans],” Rivers said. “We got the ball to the hot hand, I thought that was great [Saturday] and Ben was responsible for most of it.”