Nick Nurse Praises An Overlooked Skill of Joel Embiid
Nick Nurse joined The John Kincade Show to talk about a strong start for the Philadelphia 76ers and the opportunity to coach Joel Embiid. He discussed his approach to load management, the Sixers bench rotation, and adjusting to life in Philadelphia. His most effusive praise came when he talked about his superstar center.
Nick Nurse on Joel Embiid
The first-year Sixers head coach talked about the transition to a new team after spending 10 seasons on the Toronto Raptors staff. It’s no surprise he focused on Embiid, one of the most gifted players in the NBA. It wasn’t the offensive game that sparked the biggest reaction, however.
“I think the biggest difference for me is just Joel and how to use him defensively… When he is amped up on defense, there’s not many people better. He can cover out on the floor. He’s starting to come and erase a lot of mistakes late, which is what I kind of envision, that he should be a shot-blocking rim threat.” -Nick Nurse
Sixers fans can sometimes take the incredible raw skill of Joel Embiid for granted. A 7-foot-0 center with his wing span and athleticism seems like a given on the defensive end. Nurse pointed to the immeasurable effect of a talented shot-blocker on an opposing offense.
“When he erases one or two like that, that changes about 12 other possessions. There’s guys that start going down there saying ‘Wait a minute, I’m just going to flip it back out,’ or they go in and stop short, or they put a little bit more arc on it than they wanted to. So just learning exactly how to use him has been a lot different for me.”
Embiid ranks eighth in the NBA with 1.9 blocks per game. He finished seventh in 2022-23.
Nurse Evaluating Sixers Bench
Bob Cooney asked Nurse about the changes to the roster following the James Harden trade. New options off the bench and the addition of Nicolas Batum have shaken up the team.
The French forward has averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in nine games since the trade. He has averaged 26.7 minutes and played his way into the starting lineup.
“Batum has given us incredible versatility defensively because he can cover so many positions.” -Nurse
The Sixers are lurking just below the expected preseason favorites in the Eastern Conference standings. They have a lot to determine in their quest to break through the second round of the NBA Playoffs. However, they’re in a better position than they were when Nick Nurse took over for Doc Rivers.
“We’re still tinkering with rotations, trying to figure out who ends the first, who starts the second, who ends the third, who starts the fourth, all those kinds of things that we’ve adjusted the last couple games..We’ll continue to tinker with that a bit until we think we’ve got it right.” -Nurse
Listen to the full interview with Nick Nurse on The John Kincade Show below.