Name: Joel Embiid Age: 20 School: Kansas
Height: 7’0 Weight: 250 Projected Position: C
11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, 2.6 bpg, 2.4 tpg (23.1 minutes per game)
62.6 FG%, 68.5 FT%, 65.5 TS%, 62.9 eFG%
23.4 USG%, 12.7 ORB%, 27.3 DREB%, 20.5 TRB%, 11.7 BLK%, 21.6 TOV%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Embiid’s improvement as a back-to-the basket post player over the course of a season was as impressive as any player I remember, though he still has a long way to go before he is a real threat at the pro level. Embiid does a good job setting a wide base and sealing off his defender. He sets a good target for passers and has very good hands. Embiid’s post moves, ones he can pull of consistently, are still limited, but he has shown good, and still improving, footwork with the moves he has. He is able to make a quick move into the lane over either shoulder, as well as finish with either hand around the basket. Embiid has also shown a good dropstep move to the baseline, though he can find himself stuck under the basket if he isn’t careful about his positioning. He has decent touch in the lane area, though he sometimes needs to realize better where he is before he takes a shot. However, if he is right around the basket, he will look to dunk it. Embiid has shown the beginning of what could be a very strong face-up game out of the low post, where he can look to dribble by his man to the basket, or shoot the short jumper. Embiid needs to continue working on being able to sense help defenders and being able to locate and make a quick pass to teammates on the perimeter. Embiid had a tough time when defenders played him physical, often getting him to lose his cool or get frustrated, so he needs to work on getting past that. He is not a very strong screener at times, often looking like he is just going through the motions, and he needs to work on making sure he catches a defender before leaving the screen. Also, he needs to work on being the roll man in the pick-and-roll., particularly opening up quickly to the ball. Embiid understands spacing well and has shown to be very active moving in the post to get in position for the ball.
Embiid has the makings of eventually being an above-average to good midrange shooter, though he didn’t show it much this past season. He does a good job getting square to the basket, has a smooth motion, high release and good follow-through. Embiid is also improving as a ballhandler, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him eventually be able to shot-fake from mid-range and make a strong move to the basket.
Free Throw Shooting
Embiid is a better free throw shooter than his numbers show since such a small sample causes a few misses to have more of an effect on his percentage. He has a very good shooting stroke for a big man, with fluid motion and good follow-through. When he misses, it is often because he hesitates a bit before his release, causing is shot to be more of a line-drive. Embiid does a very good job drawing contact around the basket, getting to the line about 1.7 times for every 2 field goal attempts, though he did have only 171 field goal attempts on the year.
Post Defense/Help Defense
Embiid has shown good potential as a post defender, creating a solid, balanced base with his legs and positioning himself well between his man and the basket. He also has shown good footwork when defending against both back-to-the-basket and face-up post moves. Embiid needs to work on building up his strength and using his lower body better to force his man away from the basket, and he needs to work on not using his upper body as much to lean on his man. Embiid’s has very good defensive awareness, and he will be an excellent help defender around the basket. He can be quicker on his reaction time to getting into help position, sometimes ending up a split-second too late, sometimes ending in him fouling. Embiid can be a very good shot-blocker. He has good timing and extension on the shot, although he falls too easily for head and shot fakes, again getting him into foul trouble; still, he is not afraid to challenge shots from wherever they come. In pick-and-roll situations, Embiid needs to work on hedging out on the ballhandler, especially making sure not to give too much room to the ballhandler to make a move to the basket or get a shot off. Embiid can also find himself stuck between coming up on the ballhandler or looking to recover to his man too soon.
Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)
Embiid can be a good on-ball perimeter defender for his size. He positions himself well between his man and the basket, and gets in a strong defensive stance. His lateral movement is also very good for his size, especially over short distances, though his reaction time to movements can be quicker, and he can have a tendency to get drawn out much further than he should on the perimeter. Embiid does a good job closing on perimeter shooters, though he is quick to fall for shot fakes and getting drawn in the air. Off the ball, Embiid positions himself well and his length can be disruptive to passing lane, though he can sometimes get caught up in worrying about getting to the lane to help and lose track of the ball. His length does allow him to give some room out on the perimeter and still be able to challenge shots well, but his positioning will be important.
Embiid does a very good job tracking missed shots and getting into position to grab the rebound. He also is very good at looking to use his body to box out opponents and once he has position, extending and going strong after the ball. Embiid does need to get stronger and use his lower body more for leverage when getting position for rebounds. Embiid’s length also allows him to keep balls active that he can’t get to immediately. On the offensive end, Embiid isn’t as aggressive going after missed shots, but instead he is patient and looks to see where he can make a play with the best chance. One area where he can improve is his ability to go right back up after grabbing an offensive board. There are times when he will often consider kicking it out to be his first option, even though he could make a play. Embiid does a good job securing rebounds on both ends and he will generally keep the ball high, though he does get himself into some trouble with some swinging elbows.
Embiid runs the floor well for his size and can be a good option on the secondary break as a trailer or getting out in front of the defense. He even showed the ability to push the ball himself the length of the court and finish, though I wouldn’t count on that happening often, especially at the NBA level. Embiid does a very good job catching passes around the basket and finishing strong, while also showing good body control and dealing with contact.
Embiid’s improvement was one of the highlights of college basketball this year, even if a lot of it was overblown. He has the very good beginnings of being a strong offensive post player, with the potential to expanding his game to other spots on the court with his athleticism. Embiid also emerged as a defender with a lot of potential, though he has very little experience guarding players who are similar in size to him. People were drawn to his shot-blocking, but Embiid also found himself having to sit more minutes than he should of because he gets into foul trouble easily. By all accounts, he is very teachable and works as hard as anyone to continue to improve. Embiid seems to have a strong understanding of the game for someone with little experience, and I have little doubt that teammates really enjoy playing alongside him. He is still very much a project, though he has gotten off to a great start in very limited time at the college level.
Draft Value: Early Lottery – #1-6
It is understandable in many ways why people were excited by Embiid’s future, though the same people also tended to weigh the positives of his play a lot more than the reality of where he is as a player. At 20, he is still very raw as a player, and in the limited amount of time he played against similar size players, the results were nowhere near how he played when going up against 6’7-6’8 power forwards. This isn’t to say he can’t be a very good player one day, but early expectations of what he can do in the NBA will likely need to be very tempered. As for the back issues, it really is tough to say the future impact, and any team that takes him will surely get the best advice they can from medical personnel. Still, it is tough for any team in the Top 3 or 4 to say no to giving Embiid a chance, and hopefully he goes to a team that has a staff known for developing young big men
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