It’s no secret Joel Embiid can shoot threes. Brett Brown has said the Sixers do not plan to utilize Embiid as a predominantly long-range shooter. Still, the 7-foot-2 center is leading the NBA in just that.
Embiid ranks first in the league in three-point shooting (66.7 percent) with six of nine made. He has a large margin over the next most efficient shooter, Andrew Wiggins (54.5 percent). James Harden has made the most treys in the league with 22 of 54 attempts.
“If they leave me open, I’m going to shoot it,” Embiid said.
On Monday before playing the Jazz, Embiid said he planned to attack the basket more than taking jumpers. He did not attempt a trey, but it wasn’t for lack of intention.
“They weren’t giving me those looks,” Embiid said after the Sixers 109-84 loss (see story). “Every time I was open at the top of the key, they were closing out.”
It is common to see Embiid working on three-point shots after practice. He runs through drills with Robert Covington and puts in extra time with coaches. The Sixers and Embiid are working to find a middle ground between inside and outside shooting.
“He has an unusual skill as a five-man that we have to use from time to time,” Brown said. “I still am always with Jo on, back to the basket, drop step, drop step, dunk ... free throws, get fouled. That balance of what he can do is the holy grail.”
Embiid’s long-range abilities create lineup options for Brown. While he is not ready to play Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together because of minute restrictions, Brown sees how Embiid can open up shots for his fellow big.
“Joel affords Jahlil to have space when he can stretch the floor like that,” Brown said.
Brown saw early into his coaching the Sixers that Embiid could knock down three-point shots. Now that Embiid is healthy, the Sixers are finding out how they can maximize his versatility.
“We want to use it,” Brown said. “I just feel like it’s one other layer to what we’re all seeing to be pretty significant ways that Joel can score.”