Sheer dominance is a trait that only a handful of NBA superstars can say they truly possess.
‘Unstoppable’ would even be putting it nicely as opposing teams usually feel helpless even if they throw everything but the kitchen sink at these players.
This must be Joel Embiid’s opponents felt in his last 10 games, as he has scored at least 30 points in nine of those contests and led his team to a 6-4 record. Twice during this short span, Embiid has finished with at least 50 points, with the latest being a 53-point outburst against the hapless Charlotte Hornets.
It was clearly a let-Embiid-cook kind of night and who could blame them? The five-time NBA All-Star was a threat even 25 feet away from the basket. Whether he’s setting screens or creating for himself on the low block, Embiid found ways to contribute while the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers would punish the Hornets with back-breaking 3-pointers.
It’s only mid-December and yet Embiid is already in midseason form.
The four-time All-NBA Second Team selection has punished opponents in a myriad of ways from various areas on the court. For all his skills, Embiid continues to rely on a power game, especially when teams try to become more physical with him. After all, he is already a tough cover for nearly the entire league one-on-one. Scoring is predicated on space, and the 2021-2022 NBA Scoring Champion has gone deep into his bag to address how defenses have guarded him.
In spite of the lion’s share of touches he gets whenever he’s on the court, Embiid has shown that he is a willing team player and while he has never hidden his belief in attaining individual accomplishments, winning trumps everything for the Cameroonian, who also holds both American and French citizenship.
Postseason appearances have never been the issue for Embiid and Philadelphia, who have made the NBA Playoffs the last five seasons (and may be onto their sixth). Advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, however, has been a pipe dream that has been the source of their frustrations. Much of the supporting cast has changed and the only constant over the years has been Embiid. With the way he has been playing in the last three seasons, you know he wants it.
As such, Embiid has made strides in his commitment to conditioning and all things related to the Sixers. It shows itself in his commitment to do the dirty work and, of course, to work within the team’s concepts. Another emerging facet of the former Kansas Jayhawks’ game is his passing. Approaching five assists a game this season, Embiid understands that he draws A LOT of gravity offensively and he has found cutters and shooters with the space he creates for them. After all, it all goes back to him in the end, as opponents will eventually have to stretch themselves and live with the consequences.
Health has always been Embiid’s problem and his stellar play does come at the cost of significant usage. As a 7-footer approaching 300 pounds, the wear-and-tear is understandable and compared to guards and wings, recovery is a tricky thing. It also doesn’t help that he battles opposing frontcourts in the paint, where they at times target him.
Embiid playing even coming close to playing 70 regular season games may be highly unlikely given how he has already missed eight games thus far due to a left mid-foot sprain, a left ankle injury, and a right knee injury, among other ailments. Lower leg injuries have been a bane for the 28-year old and Philadelphia will continue to navigate a jam-packed Eastern Conference by balancing racking up wins and preserving Embiid’s health for what they hope will be a deep run into May or even June.
Since overcoming major health issues in his first few years in the NBA, Joel Embiid has been a dominant force in the league. We thought we saw everything with Embiid over the last six seasons, but it seems that, health be willing, he is only approaching his final form.