76ers Rumors: Joel Embiid Practicing 'Perimeter Attacks,' 'Finishing' After Surgery

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 6, 2022

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 23: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up ahead of Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on April 23, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Cole Burston/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is hard at work on the practice court despite having undergone surgery to repair separate thumb and finger injuries one week ago.

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported Monday that Embiid "is already working this offseason on perimeter attacks and finishing with touch at the rim."

"Embiid and the Sixers hope he can become even more dynamic bringing the ball up the floor himself on the break and driving in the half court," per O'Connor. "... If Embiid expands his perimeter skill set, it could alleviate pressure on [James] Harden and Tyrese Maxey to be the sole creators."

The five-time All-Star was one of the NBA's best players this season, finishing runner-up to the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic in the MVP voting. He was the scoring champion (30.6 points per game) while averaging 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks.

There's only so much more a team can ask of a player who put up those numbers and finished with a 37.2 percent usage rate, per Basketball Reference.

But improving Embiid's game around the margins might be required in order for the Sixers to get themselves closer to a championship.

There's a reason Philadelphia acquired Harden despite watching Maxey make significant strides in his game. The team clearly needed a star who could operate on the perimeter and ease some of the offensive burden on Embiid.

Considering his game has noticeably declined over multiple seasons, the Houston Rockets version of Harden may never come back beyond a monster performance here and there. Assuming that's the case, the demands on Embiid will continue to grow.

There's no question the 7-footer is a physical marvel who can bang against other bigs inside or lead the break in transition.

Still, one can't help but feel the Sixers are attempting to alter Embiid's playing style in order to cover for a wider failure to build the right supporting cast around the 28-year-old.