Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid has achieved a new level of stardom this year. And he credits a sensible - if you think about it - source for his improvement.
The Sixers big man is an MVP candidate in part because he’s become an effective perimeter shooter. And how did that come about? By studying Nowitzki, says Embiid, via Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice.
Embiid, by the way, has made a similar point in the past.
“When I first started playing basketball,'' he said in 2019 of Nowitzki's patented shot, "my coach had a tape of Dirk from the past, and that’s where I first saw his fadeaway move. When I started playing basketball, that was all I knew, and I loved him for these moves.”
Embiid has always been a capable scorer, in most cases with the 27-year-old using his big frame inside. But now? The 7-footer is averaging a career-best 30 points per game on 51.6-percent shooting ... and yes, that career-high mark is in part due to interior dominance.
But he's also making 1.2 treys per game while shooting at a 37.9-percent clip from the arc. That's not only another career-best numbers for Embiid, it's also a way to add to his all-around threat on the offensive end.
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Mavs coach Rick Carlisle knows all about the development of Embiid, saying after a recent loss to Philly, “Embiid was just dominant out there. ... He’s a great player. He’s really matured a lot, grown a lot, and he showed everything tonight. Everything from back-in dunks, turnaround shots, threes, face-ups, the whole deal. That was a big problem.”
And Embiid obviously, knows all about the greatest player in Mavs history, Dirk Nowitzki who revolutionized the sport in regard to what a 7-footer could do as a shooter.
Nowitzki, of course led the Mavs to an NBA title and won himself a league MVP trophy in large part due to his innovative style of play. And if Joel Embiid - in competition for individual honors with Dallas' Luka Doncic - now does the same think for the Sixers? Dirk - a person and player who has served as a model for so many - will deserve just a little bit of the credit.