Latest All-Defensive Honor Reinforces Embiid's Elite Impact

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

There are many ways Joel Embiid affects an NBA game. His defensive impact, however, continues to shine the brightest.

In an announcement from the NBA Wednesday afternoon, the 76ers' big man was named to the league's All-Defensive Second Team. He's now received the recognition two years in a row, making him the first Sixer to land All-Defensive honors in back-to-back seasons since Dikembe Mutombo achieved the feat in 2001 and 2002.

Embiid, whose individual defensive rating of 103.3 ranked fifth in the NBA during the regular season (minimum 30 minutes per game, 60 games played), is one of 10 players in franchise history to be designated to an All-Defensive Team.

Since debuting with the Sixers three years ago, Embiid has shown there's plenty he can do defensively.

Need a sizable yet nimble body to put on a strong, explosive, floor-stretching four man, or perhaps a shifty, crafty scoring guard? Embiid's got you covered.

Looking for someone to gobble up defensive boards at a relentless rate? The 25-year old Cameroonian is your guy.

No one in the league did better this past season than Embiid and his 11.1 defensive rebounds per game. He placed second among all players with a defensive rebounding percentage of 29.2.

As important as Embiid's defensive versatility and rebounding prowess were this year to the Sixers' collective success, protecting the rim is where the 7-footer remained an absolute game-changer.

His imposing, stalking frame was a regular road block for even the most dangerous of lane drivers. He finished sixth in the NBA with an average of 1.9 swats per game, while defending 53.3% of shots taken against him at the rim, which was good for third-best overall (min. 30 mpg, 60 gp).

Also worth noting is that Embiid faced more shots at the rim on average than anyone else, as he was peppered with 8.2 attempts per game.

When it comes to the weight of Embiid's defensive performance this season, evidence can be readily found in the on / off court numbers he produced. The Sixers' efficiency dropped by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when the 2014 no. 3 pick wasn't on the floor.

The on / off court differential Embiid yielded was higher than those generated by Defensive Player of the Year candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo (-3.6), Paul George (-4.1), and Rudy Gobert (-0.7).

Although voting for the NBA's 2019 All-Defensive Team took place prior to the playoffs, Embiid's stout contributions carried over into the postseason. At the time the Sixers were eliminated from the second round, he boasted the best individual playoff defensive rating (91.4) in the league.

Toronto outscored the Sixers by a total of 109 points in the 99 minutes Embiid didn't play in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, a telling indicator that captured the enormity of the All-Star's defensive presence.

Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons also registered votes for the All-Defensive Second Team. 

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