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January 17, 2017

Sixers Mailbag: How big of a flaw is Joel Embiid’s rebounding?

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Another week, another Sixers mailbag. Well, except this time around we’re talking about a team that has won six of its last eight games. Let’s get right to it…

Of those two big guys, I would lean toward keeping Nerlens Noel without much hesitation. The last month of basketball has made that choice fairly clear in my estimation, even if Noel’s on-off splits have fallen back down to earth a little bit the past week.

 Nerlens Noel
Jahlil Okafor

That said, the difference between the top pick (potentially Markelle Fultz, who plays on a team that couldn’t guard the Philadelphia Catholic League champs) and the 7th pick is a big deal. On average, the drop is about 30-50 win shares over those players’ careers. That is only one way of measuring performance, but the point is, getting the top pick is a pretty big deal. And even though Noel is a fine role player, the chance to pass on a star is too much to pass up.

Speaking of somebody who can put up some win shares…

Embiid’s rebounding has probably been the weakest part of his game. He hasn’t played enough to qualify for the official leaders, but “The Process” would lead the league in block rate. Embiid’s rim protection numbers are also elite, and his impact on the team has been nothing short of remarkable.

Embiid has been a good but not great defensive rebounder so far. At times, it’s no secret that he loses his balance and struggles to hold his position. It doesn’t really matter, though, not when you take everything else into account. When the 22-year-old big man is on the floor, the Sixers are giving up 99.3 points per 100 possessions. That would easily be the best mark in the league.

The Sixers are only a slightly above-average defensive rebounding team when Embiid plays, but they’re forcing (and specifically, he is forcing) so many missed shots that they’re still playing at an elite level. As long as he keeps forcing so many misses (which might have a negative effect form him individually on the glass), this level of rebounding is perfectly fine.

The fouls on the other hand? Well, let's save that one for another time.

10 out of 10, specifically because he did the exact same one as Michael Jordan after he hit the famous shot over Craig Ehlo:

Outside of how many Sixers podcasts there are, it’s hard to say. I’m maybe a little lower on Noel than Derek, but honestly not by too much.

At first, Simmons is going to need to show more effort on the defensive end than what we saw from him at LSU. My guess is that he’ll eventually have the versatility to guard some bigger 3s and switch onto guards, but he was one of the best rebounders in the country as a freshman. Brett Brown has talked a lot about how Simmons is at his best grabbing a rebound off the rim and immediately pushing the ball. This could change, but I would want him guarding 4s.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann