Shaq and Barkley took it upon themselves to motivate Joel Embiid to strive for excellence. Embiid hasn’t been living up to his potential and the legends want him to step up. The main issue? Embiid is playing like he’s a wing and not a dominant post player.
There is a clash of two schools of thought in the NBA. One says everything is cyclical and we will see the big men make comeback in the NBA. Despite all the three-point shooting and ball movement, clearing out the paint for the guard or wing player the game will return to the big men operating in the post.
The other one believes that analytics prooved that a team built around a dominant post player at its best is much easier to defeat than a perimeter-oriented shooting team. To put it in simple terms: the 2016 Warriors are a superior team to the 2001 Lakers, and the math says there is no level of post dominance a la Shaq that can change that. Now that the code has been cracked, building a team around a center is setting your self up for failure. You can guess what Shaq thinks about that.
“I would actually love to play in this NBA. I would bring a little bit more physicality. I would bring my length, I would bring my athletic-ness. So, before you say, ‘Shaq can’t play in this era today,’ I’m already playing. My name is Giannis Antetokounmpo.”Shaquille O’Neal, ESPN
But Shaq isn’t the only one who thinks that. A guy you would immediately put in the analytics group would build around Shaq in a heartbeat. Daryl Morey said that he would just give Shaq the ball “a 1000 times“, finishing his point with a simple question. “Can I draft him somewhere?” A player that can prove it, either way, is Joel Embiid. He has all the tools to go in the post and dominate, especially in today’s league. Coach Brown won’t hear about it.
“You can double bigs easier, you can swarm them, you can hold them up knowing people are waiting on the perimeter and the [shot] clock is evaporating.”Brett Brown, ESPN
For now, it seems the Sixers won’t increase Embiid’s post touches and he will continue to frustrate a lot of people by launching threes and shooting mid-range jumpers.