Joel Embiid has been on an absolutely torrid stretch to start the season for the Philadelphia 76ers. He's been so good, that the recent addition of Jimmy Butler to the team makes the thought of him getting better, even more scarier.
Giving Embiid the basketball has been a nightmare for teams this season. He's averaging 28.2 points per game and 13.4 rebounds while averaging a tick above four assists and two blocks so far this year.
On top of those averages, which are elevated from his past two seasons, he's also taking shots way more than ever before and making those shots at a higher rate than he has ever made previously. Currently, Embiid is averaging close to 19 shot attempts per game in the first 15 games of the year while sinking nine of them for a 48.4 percent shooting percentage.
Looking at those numbers alone show just how dominant Embiid has been for the Sixers this season. At this moment, he's had nine games of 30 points or more and had less than 20 points only three times this season. Among the 15 games played are two 40+ point games for the big man.
When Embiid dominates, the Sixers win games at a high level. However, the team has struggled when he isn't playing nearly as well, falling in two of the three games when he scored less than 20 points.
According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Embiid is his biggest critic, especially when he isn't playing up to his own expectations. He told Pompey following the Sixers' 124-114 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday night that he is disappointed when doesn't score more than 35 points on any given night.
"Yeah, for sure," said Embiid. "But sometimes you know that ball doesn't find you," he added. "So you got to make sure you do the right things, especially when it comes to defense, and getting my teammates open by setting good screens.
But yeah, when I feel like I don't have 35 these days, I feel like it's a bad game," said Embiid. "The game against Memphis, I was trash so I needed tonight to come out and do a better job."
Embiid has played and started in all 15 games for the Sixers so far this season and has already increased his workload with the team even more than he has in the past couple of seasons. He's more dominant than ever before and that's a testament to his growth as an NBA player. It's obvious that the best is still net to come for the 24-year-old.
The most intriguing part of Embiid's game in this present moment is how it will mesh with the rest of his teammates once Jimmy Butler is added to the fold.
According to Brett Brown, the relationship between Embiid, Butler and Simmons has already blossomed without having even taken the court yet.
It's good to see Embiid be critical of his game and how he plays on this team going forward. Hopefully the trajectory that he's on to begin the season will hold to form in the later stages of the year.