Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey will find out

Joel Embiid is used to being “the guy” for the Philadelphia 76ers, and for good reason.

He’s (almost) always the best player on the court whenever he puts Under Armor on hardwood, has an incredibly deep bucket of stuff in his basketball work and, more importantly, has been embraced by the ‘team, its ownership group, and the City of Brotherly Love like few others on the league scale.

Outside of a brief period of twinning with Jimmy Butler a few years ago, Embiid has always been the team’s best offensive option in just about any situation, even though he was desperate for a criminal partner. in the fourth quarter when Butler started sling cafe in South Beach.

While his time wasn’t that long in a red, white and blue uniform, Tyrese Maxey quickly got used to being “the guy” for the Philadelphia 76ers too, and for good reason.

In Embiid’s absence, Maxey has become one of the most effective scorers in the NBA. He shoots 49.1% from the field, 38.5% from 3 and, most surprisingly of all, only turns the ball 1.4 times per game against 4.9 assists. He is also, as you probably already know, averaging 18.5 points on 14.2 shots per game while going six games over 20 points in seven games over a two-week period of games without most of the game. its supporting actors.

So surely, when the two offensive dynamos reunited for their first game together in three weeks, the Philadelphia 76ers would operate like a finely tuned machine, right? Yeah, not so much, but you know what? There are still 62 games left in the regular season, and any rust on the engine will surely be gone before games start counting in mid-April.

The Philadelphia 76ers must build a hybrid attack around Embiid and Maxey.

Joel Embiid likes to put the ball in the paint.

Sure, he can drive the field, hit open 3s, hit the line, and hit one of the smoothest jumpers you’ve ever seen, but in the end, Embiid is at his best when he collects the ball in the restricted area and can go to work.

To his credit, Tyrese Maxey also likes to score the ball in the paint, but he does so either out of the quick break or through a screen that clears a path to the basket. Like Embiid, Maxey can score in a number of other ways as well, like his signature float, rapidly developing 3-point shot, and an equally fluid jumper, but his pilot has become one of the best shots you’ll see in the NBA. because he logs 60 percent of his shots within five feet of the basket on 5.5 attempts per game.

So you’ve got a point guard who likes to go to the field goal screen and a full-bodied cross who likes to score in the paint, especially when he’s the beneficiary of a well-placed pass. This pairing seems pretty seamless, doesn’t it? I mean, a lot of teams have done it with a one-two, one-five punch, especially when they’re as good individually as Embiid and Maxey, so why did it seem like the duo were on completely different pages at times. compared to Minnesota Wolves of the woods?

Because Embiid and Maxey just don’t have the reps under their collective belt for how the other likes to function.

At the start of the season, Sixers point guard Maxey averaged just 9.7 more touches than Embiid, 74.6 to 64.9. In Embiid’s absence, Maxey’s hits dropped to 85.3, right next to his offensive efficiency. Why? Because Maxey had more opportunities to play with the ball in his hands, instead of having players like Tobias Harris and Seth Curry initiating the offense in the half court.

In their first game together, Maxey again led the offense, passing Embiid 114-88, but his usual flash, flour and relentless fur were noticeably less present in favor of a slightly more measured tenor. Call it a concerted effort to get Embiid back into the offense – I mean, he made scoring 42 after all – or just a byproduct of having a tall man who can score outside the restricted area, but a keen observer could almost see the gears in Maxey’s head, instead of driving towards the basket for a shot to score.

To truly unlock offense in the future, Embiid, Maxey, and Doc Rivers need to be on the same page and forge a modified offensive identity that elevates each player’s strengths and leaves opposing defenders to guess.

Take, for example, the pick-and-pop game Ben Simmons and Embiid would work like there is a life. Embiid would adjust the screen and step back behind the arc hoping to stay in the game as an out-of-bounds pass. Maxey wouldn’t play such a play with Andre Drummond as the screener for obvious reasons, but between Embiid’s very lively 3-point shot and the 21-year-old’s innate ability to come out of a double-team, this game could have you. earn points in different ways.

But Maxey and Embiid’s collective misfires weren’t just based on play calls. No, as simple as it sounds, the duo are still experiencing each other. With more time in the trenches together, Embiid will understand where Maxey likes his screens and where he will be watching on the player. Maxey will also learn where Embiid wants the ball in the paint, how to get defenders out of the tight zone, and hopefully avoid giving the ball to the fat guy 20 feet from the hoop in late-clock ISO situations.

Once these two get comfortable on the court together, that will surely be a problem for the rest of the NBA.

As crazy as it sounds, Joel Embiid isn’t used to having a point guard like Tyrese Maxey. Sure, he’s played plenty of minutes with Shake Milton, who is a near-traditional playmaker, but he doesn’t have Maxey’s bursting and finishing abilities around the net. In order for the Philadelphia 76ers to unlock this new offense and take it to its peak level, they have to put in the minutes to figure it out because the talent is there. The only thing missing? Representatives… and a small legitimate 3-and-D attacker.

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