NBA: The Cavs are fun, an MVP favorite, and 3 February predictions

Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

NBA January Takeaway: Joel Embiid’s new offensive arsenal

Joel Embiid has been as good as anyone in the NBA this year and deserves some recognition. He’s averaging a career-high in points per game (28.3), but it’s his efficiency and shot chart that jumps off the page. Embiid is shooting career-best marks from 2, from 3, and from the free-throw line. Interestingly enough though, he’s doing all of this while setting career lows in 3-point attempts and shots within three feet of the basket, two shots that are thought of as the most efficient in basketball.

Instead, Embiid is opting for increased usage in the mid-range, and the eye test matches the stats. Embiid is operating in the mid-post area more than I’ve ever seen him, opting for more of a face-up game with a dense menu of post moves than a traditional bully ball style.

For Embiid to be utilizing more shots that are widely considered as inefficient and yet still be posting his most efficient shooting season ever is somewhat unique, but you can’t argue with the results. He’s currently among the favorites for MVP and has his team atop the Eastern Conference standings, so whatever changes he’s made are clearly working.

Maybe we still don’t have enough of a sample size to draw any larger conclusions, but Embiid appears to have stumbled into a subtle change in his game that may have unlocked another level for him offensively.