Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid Deserves More From The Sixers

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Joel Embiid has been on an absolute tear since he’s returned to the Sixers. He’s made one thing clear, he deserves more from Philadelphia.

Since returning after his bout with COVID, Joel Embiid has averaged 28.4 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. On defense, he has averaged 2.3 blocks per game and 1.0 steals per game. During this same time frame, the Sixers are 2-2, with both losses coming by a combined 2 points.

With the Sixers returning to full strength and the team consistently competing until the end of games, it appears that there would be nothing to complain about with the Sixers. Other than the fact that everyone outside of Seth Curry hasn’t stepped up since Joel’s return.

Let’s start with the 36 million dollar elephant in the room: Tobias Harris has not played well over the course of his last few games. Since Joel’s return, Tobias Harris has shot 38.4% from the field, 17.6% from three, and 71.4% from the free-throw line. He has averaged just 15.7 points per game over the same stretch and has done nothing to alleviate the offensive pressure that sits squarely on Joel’s shoulders. His inability to play to even a fraction of what his contract is worth over this stretch has been disappointing, to say the least, and in close losses, each mistake and blunder is heavily magnified.

The next disappointment for the 76ers since Joel’s return has been the regression of Sixers’ lead guard Tyrese Maxey. Maxey has averaged 10.3 points per game since the return of Joel on awful efficiency. Over his last 4 games, Maxey has shot a measly 28% from the field on over 12 shots per game. Even worse, his 3 point percentage is only 20% over this recent stretch.

It is entirely possible that Maxey is experiencing a combination of growing pains from playing next to Embiid and a large amount of fatigue from his heavy minute usage during Embiid’s absence. Either way, Maxey needs to play better with his star center if he wants to maintain the starting role for the 76ers.

On top of these two underperforming for the 76ers, Matisse Thybulle has not looked nearly as good as we are used to seeing from him. Since Joel’s return, Thybulle has averaged only 1.0 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game. This is a far cry from the 2.0 steals average and 1.4 blocks average that Matisse has had on the year. His lack of an offensive threat and the fact that he is clearly is still rusty has made him a liability as of late.

Surely, all of these players will shake off their rust or bust out of their shooting slumps as the season progresses. Matisse will have his defense and feel for the game restored, Maxey will figure out how to coincide with the best center in the league, and Tobias Harris will reemerge in the offense. That being said, Joel shouldn’t have to wait around for All-Star reinforcements to come via trade, especially when the Sixers have an All-Star point guard refusing to play. Joel has been with the 76ers through thick and thin. Through injuries, through loss after loss.

Through Kawhi buzzer-beaters and burner accounts. Through constant second-round exits and through two first overall picks demanding trades out of Philadelphia. Joel deserves better from his front office and better from his teammates.

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