The impressive play of Joel Embiid has made a strong impression on millions of people already. The reigning MVP runner-up has exceeded all expectations and blown away viewers on a nightly basis with his unique abilities on the basketball court. It appears his teammates are also included among those who have been in shock by the superstar’s play.
Shake Milton recently went on the Talk of the Town 918 podcast where he discussed a variety of topics about his upbringing and journey to the NBA. One topic where Milton was seemingly caught speechless was surrounding the play of Joel Embiid. When asked what it is that makes him such a talented basketball player, the Sixers guard replied:
“Honestly it’s unreal. I can’t even really put it into words, man. To be 7’2″, 280 (pounds) and to just be moving like a guard- everything he does out there is guard-like. Even when he catches it on the post.”- Shake Milton
You can see the full clip of Milton’s comments here:
Joel Embiid’s Growth
This ability to play like a guard is not new to Joel Embiid. The Sixers superstar is aware of the NBA trending away from being a big man’s game and has evolved along with it. Embiid mentioned this as early as 2017 when speaking with CSN Philly. As he put it then:
“I’ve always thought that I’m a guard,” Embiid said, via CSN Philly, “so having (Nerlens Noel) rolling to the basket, because he’s so athletic, he can catch lobs, and me just playing on the perimeter or posting up and just handling the ball — by the end of my career, I want to be a point guard, so that was good.”
While his monstrous 7’2″ frame will never be confused for a true point guard, the strides he has taken as a ball-handler are notable. In the midst of Ben Simmons’ holdout last season, Embiid oftentimes took it upon himself to take the ball coast-to-coast.
This confidence and ability to handle the ball have changed the game for the superstar. It also comes into play in the halfcourt offense where his self-creation has gone to another level. It also has allowed his usage numbers to grow greatly. Embiid was second in the NBA in usage percentage last season trailing only Luka Doncic.
What’s Next for Embiid
When searching for other areas he must improve there is not a lot that comes to mind. The addition of James Harden and the emergence of Tyrese Maxey has limited the need for Embiid to serve as a ball-handler regularly. However, this does not change Embiid’s desire to improve and the early looks of his workout with his trainer, Drew Hanlen, seem to indicate this type of perimeter work will continue.
As the Sixers look to clear the second-round postseason hurdle that has continually tripped them up, Embiid’s growth in ball-handling could come to play a major role. In late-game situations, it is much more difficult to prevent the big man from getting the ball on the perimeter rather than in the post. Defenses tend to scheme to keep the ball away from the Sixers superstar when he is down low, but his continued growth is combatting this tactic. He recently ranked 4th in the NBA in the latest ESPN player ranking as a result of the leaps he has taken.
As the 2022-23 season inches closer, big things from Joel Embiid seem all but guaranteed. Even with the new additions to the roster, the team undoubtedly can only go as far as their superstar can take them. Count on Embiid to be as focused as ever and to continue impressing others with his unique skillset moving forward.