Why Joel Embiid’s return wasn’t normal - and what it means

Yahoo Sports NBA contributor Tom Haberstroh details the shot selection by the 76ers big man in Tuesday’s game against the Thunder - his first since January 30 due to a knee injury - and why it will be something to watch as Philadelphia nears the postseason.

Video Transcript

TOM HABERSTROH: I'm Tom Haberstroh, and you're watching "The Big Number." Today's big number is 17.7.


That's the average shot distance measured in feet for Joel Embiid in his return from his injured knee on Tuesday. For Joel Embiid, that's not normal. That's the second longest average shot distance for any Embiid game this season. Embiid took just three shots in the paint all night. And this mid-range jumper was one of them.

Embiid was still effective, scoring 24 points in his return and making all 12 of his free throws. But he was clearly more comfortable settling on the perimeter. Against the shorthanded and literally short-standing Oklahoma City Thunder team, that's something to watch.

To put the 17.7 foot average shot distance in perspective, it's basically the seasonal norm of perimeter sharpshooters like Damian Lillard and Michael Porter Jr. It'll take time for Embiid to get back into gear. But given his knee issues, it'll be worth monitoring how much he decides to live in the paint, as evidenced by that notable 17.7. I'm Tom Haberstroh, and that's "The Big Number."