How 76ers’ Joel Embiid tailored his offensive game to maximise pairing with James Harden

There are a plethora of potent pairings in the NBA as of late, nonetheless none had been as productive this season as Philadelphia’s dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden. Embiid is the league’s main scorer on the season, averaging 33.4 facets per efficiency, and Harden is the tip wait on man in the Affiliation with 10.8 dimes dropped every game. Unsurprisingly, these two skill sets maintain proven to be beautiful complementary.

No player has assisted one other player more this season than Harden has Embiid, and or not it is not critically shut. At the time of typing, Harden has 210 complete assists to Embiid — 194 2-point photos, and 16 triples. The next closest pairing is in Indiana, where Tyrese Haliburton has 135 assists to Buddy Hield. That is a distinction of 75 assists between Harden and Embiid and the next duo. 

It is thanks almost entirely to the growing two-man game between Harden and Embiid — and the condominium created for others by the appreciate they attract and around the painted condominium — that the Sixers maintain the third-ranked offense in the league after ending originate air of the tip 10 in that category in every of the previous two seasons. 

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In inform to maximise their doable as a pair, Embiid has made a indispensable adjustment to his game by changing into a prolific roll man in the eliminate-and-roll motion — one thing that he did not attain almost as most frequently over the route of his profession earlier than this season. 

On the newest marketing and marketing campaign, Embiid is serving as a ball-screener on 6.9 possessions per game — the gigantic majority of that are shows for Harden shut to the tip of the major. That number leads the league by a gigantic margin. The next closest player is the Suns’ Deandre Ayton, who serves as a screener on 4.7 possessions per efficiency for Phoenix. Embiid also leads the league in facets per game as a roller with 8.3. Anthony Davis is 2nd in that stat with six facets per game.

Overall, Embiid is screening on 23.6 p.c of his offensive possessions. That number is blueprint increased than it has been in previous seasons. Final twelve months, Embiid served as ball-screener 16.6 p.c of the time — a number that received bumped up after Harden’s arrival in February. The season earlier than, Embiid operated in that contrivance correct 12.5 p.c of the time, or 3.2 possessions per game.

On memoir of his excessive usage in PNR’s, Embiid is enjoying out of the submit lots much less. Within the future of the 2020-21 marketing and marketing campaign, Embiid operated out of the submit 36.5 p.c of the time. That number dipped to 28 p.c last season, nonetheless he peaceful led the league by a gigantic margin. This twelve months, Embiid is operating out of the submit correct 16.7 p.c of the time — that’s a 20 p.c fall in comparison with correct two seasons ago. 

That giant number is indicative of how astronomical of a change Embiid has made to his offensive contrivance in inform to maximise his fit with Harden. The magnitude of this adjustment looks to be to maintain flown below the radar a shrimp on the national stage, likely because Embiid has made the change so seamlessly. 

What makes the motion so deadly is correct the sheer number of concepts that the Sixers can wound you with it. Glimpse any Sixers game and also that that it’s essential to to possibly well uncover an array of opportunities generated by Embiid atmosphere a hide for Harden at the tip of the major. If the defenders be conscious Harden, Embiid will roll to the rim for a easy dunk, or come out for a jumper from his sweet operate at the nail. If the wait on defenders are pinched in, Philadelphia’s nook shooters will find originate opportunities. If too unheard of consideration is paid to Embiid off of the roll, Harden will exploit that and find to the basket. If you recede below the hide to cease the flexibility, Harden can pull up for three. It is a actual riddle for defenses. 

If Embiid continued to operate out of the submit at the kind of excessive clip, Harden would had been largely relegated to an off-ball guy, which isn’t where he’s at his simplest (though he has labored to red meat up as a rob-and-shoot guy alongside Embiid).

Having Embiid wait on as a screener rather more maximizes Harden by permitting him to achieve what he does simplest — orchestrate an offense, and generate originate opportunities for the astronomical fella, and others. The wait on for Embiid is that he would not desire to combat almost as laborious to find originate looks. As an alternative, he can merely dart a hide and acquire himself wide originate for a 15-footer courtesy of The Beard.

Embiid’s ability to adapt has paid dividends and offered Philadelphia with a genuine, extraordinarily ambiance friendly recede-to play. The Sixers are averaging 1.2 facets per possession when Embiid serves as the roll man this season. That is more than they’ve ever averaged with him enjoying out of the submit. For comparison’s sake, the Sacramento Kings maintain the absolute best facets per possession sensible for a crew on the season at 1.18. 

Next time you’re staring at the Sixers, hear to how most frequently Embiid shows for Harden at the tip of the major to provoke offense. The potency of the play makes it an priceless weapon for Philadelphia, and one thing that whomever they face in the postseason will desire to take care of.

All stats in this text courtesy of and PBP Stats. 

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