One of the seeming prerequisites for being a successful big man in today's NBA is the ability to hit shots from long distance, and Sixers' 7-foot-3 star center Joel Embiid is no exception.
Well, he was no exception. Now he might be.
After shooting a respectable (for a seven-footer) 37 percent during his rookie year, Embiid's three-point shooting percentage is hovering around 26 percent this season. Monday night Embiid attempted three threes and made none. More and more it appears he is passing up open looks from beyond the arc, but it's a tool he'll need to have back in workable form if he wants to continue to redefine the way a center plays in the NBA.
"The whole game I felt kind of kind of flat," Embiid, who was a gametime decision with a sore knee, said. "I wasn't having fun I was just going through the motions."
That was, of course, until Embiid drew a technical foul from Donovon Mitchell and heard screams of "MVP" from the Sixers faithful.
That doesn't mean Embiid — who still posted a double-double — can't still get three the hard way, as he did in the second quarter to expand Philly lead over Utah en route to a 107-86 win to lift them to 9-7 on the year.
Embiid has made multiple threes in a game just twice this year, last week against the Lakers and back in October in Dallas.
Is it time for Embiid to leave the threes to Robert Covington (49 percent) and Jerryd Bayless (42 percent) who are drilling them at a breakneck pace?
By simply looking at numbers, shooting 33.3 percent on three pointers just as good as shooting 50 percent on two-pointers, each yielding one point per possession. Thanks to a ferocious first half the Sixers shot 36 percent from downtown at home against Golden State Saturday, but in two games prior show under 22 percent from long range.
"It just means we have to do something to adjust," Covington said. "Even though we didn't hit in the first half we made big shots in the second half. That's why you play 48 minutes, you play an entire game."
Monday night the Sixers were 0 for their first 9 before J.J. Redick drilled an open three midway through the third quarter. In the game they made only five of 15 overall.
"That's not us," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "We really have some elite three-point shooters and not just one or two, as a team we are amongst the league's best."
Still, Covington and company have kept Philly's three-point make percentage in the top 10 of all NBA teams.