Over the last couple of years, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has put an emphasis on two areas of his game he would like to develop. One of them is his conditioning to improve his pace, health, and stamina on the floor. The other is his passing -- especially when he's drawing double and sometimes triple teams.
Last year, Embiid showed a lot of improvement in that area. While he still has a long way to go before becoming a master in the passing department, Embiid is once again proving he's worked on that part of his game during the offseason.
On Sunday night, Embiid's passing improvement was on full display. As the Sixers paid a visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder for their third matchup of the season, Embiid collected a team-high of six assists during the 33 minutes he spent on the floor.
“He’s worked on it. He works on his game, works on it all summer, but that’s the part that people feel like they can get to him on, and now he’s proven them all wrong," said Sixers coach Doc Rivers. "If you trap Joel, he’ll make you pay and that’s what he did today.”
Being that it was technically NFL Sunday, Doc Rivers made a basketball-football crossover reference as Embiid's passing was stellar against the Thunder. So, when discussing his big man's big night in the passing department, Rivers compared Embiid to Tampa Bay Buccaneers star quarterback, Tom Brady.
“It was just great to watch because they kept walking over, coming over, and he was just patient,” Rivers continued. “He just was directing, just picking people apart, no Aaron Rodgers, we’ll you can’t use that one because he’s from Green Bay, so but any other good quarterback, Tom Brady-ish is what Joel was today.”
Being a Chicago Bears fan, Rivers didn't want to compare his center to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but he made his point loud and clear. As Embiid continues to grow and develop, he's becoming more advanced in areas that he struggled in during previous years.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.