In statistics, we often see that one event occurs at the same time as another event. When this happens, it is called correlation.
However, we are often trying to figure out whether one event caused another event. This is called causation.
Just because two things happen at the same time, doesn’t mean that one caused the other. but This can happen. And it’s usually easier to find two events that correlate, then test them with other analyzes to see if we believe there’s causation.
Such is the case here.
First, the correlation:
In six games played with James Harden this season, Joel Embiid averaged 27.2 PPG (53.2 FG%, 78.8 FT%, 30.0 3P%), 9.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.0 3PG, 0.5 SPG and 3.7 TO /G was. 34.5 mpg.
In four games without Harden this season, Embiid averaged 40.0 PPG (54.3 FG%, 86.4 FT%, 16.7 3P%), 11.0 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.8 BPG, 0.8 3PG, 0.8 SPG and 5.0 TO/G. is 36.3 MPG. ,
Therefore, the amount of Embiid’s fantasy basketball contributions has increased, in some areas dramatically, in the short periods he has played without Harden. But is Embiid producing more because he’s playing without Harden? Or could it just be a small sample size correlation, a hot streak from Embiid that happened with Harden out of the lineup?
There are reasonable philosophies to argue in both directions. Harden can be a high-volume, high-usage player, so if you take him away, you would expect teammates to have more shots and opportunities to fill the gap. Harden, on the other hand, is a floor general responsible for getting the ball to his teammates in scoring position, and you might suspect that removing the best team-offense creator would hurt teammates’ scoring efficiency and perhaps even volume. It is possible
Which is the case here? Let’s play them both.
cause: Embiid better without beard: After a disappointing postseason that had many wondering if Harden’s best days were behind him, Harden entered this season looking to be in better shape and therefore with MVP-level aspirations. Told in He came out of the gate in a rush, scoring 29 or more points in three of the first four games and nine or more assists in the last four games he played next to Embiid. All told, in those six games, Harden averaged 23.3 PPG (16.5 FGA, 6.8 FTA), 7.8 RPG, 9.8 APG and 2.3 TO/G. Those numbers would currently rank him 21st in the NBA in scoring (just ahead of teammate Tyrese Maxi), second in assists/game and 34th in rebounds/game. He would be 30th in field goal attempts and 14th in free throw attempts.
According to Second Spectrum, Harden touched the ball 837 times in nine games. That means Harden was touching the ball more times per game (93.0) than Luka Doncic (92.7 in 13 games) or Nikola Jokic (91.2 in 13 games), two MVP candidates who famously have their entire offenses . Embiid averaged 69.9 touches/game in his 10 games.
So, Harden was not only taking a high volume of shots and running the entire team’s offense through him, but he was also hitting the boards hard from the backcourt. Also, if you watched the 76ers this entire season, you noticed that Harden was taking the air off the ball on a number of things. While this would have been great for the 76ers as a team, Harden’s Real Plus Minus (RPM) score of 4.4 indicates that he had the 11th highest impact in the NBA so far on the season; It could do nothing but hurt Embiid’s volume.
Embiid isn’t the traditional big man who needs a guard to create a good look for himself. Instead, he prefers to dribble face-up and create his own looks. According to Second Spectrum, Embiid runs 14.7 isolations per 100 possessions, the fifth-highest mark in the NBA behind Lukas, Shai Gilgies-Alexander, Pascal Siakam and… you guessed it, teammate Harden. If Harden is dominating the ball, Embiid can’t go to work as often as he’d like. Same is the case with Assist. If Harden is initiating most of the shot looks, Embiid doesn’t have the opportunity to generate many assists of his own. And the same is true for rebounds, where a heavy-rebounding guard means there aren’t as many caroms for Embiid to collect.
Harden was playing much better this season before the injury and it was great for the 76ers as a team but lousy for Embiid’s fantasy basketball output.
Co – relationship: Smaller sample size coincidentally, as good as Harden: Embiid is hot hot right now but it’s not sustainable. He’s not going to average 40 PPG and 5.3 APG for the rest of the season, no matter who his teammates are. It just so happens that Embiid caught fire to have a historic weekend with 101 points and 14 assists in two games against the Hawks and Jazz, and if we revisit his numbers in a few weeks they may be at their true level. But will come back. what is that level?
Well, last season at the age of 27-28, typically peak years, Embiid averaged a career-high 30.6 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 4.2 APG. That’s for the weather. But do you know what Embiid’s numbers were last season, when Harden made his 76ers debut on February 25? Embiid averaged 32.6 PPG, 12.8 RPG and 3.5 APG in those 22 games. That’s right, last season, Embiid’s scoring and rebounding volumes actually increased by a huge amount once he started playing next to Harden.
And while, yes, Harden started this season looking a lot better than last time, he really hasn’t been any more disruptive in terms of assets used this season than he was last season. Harden is taking 2.3 more field goal attempts/game this season, but he is taking 2.7 fewer free throws, generating 0.5 fewer assists and 0.5 fewer turnovers. Factor in that all and Harden’s 26.4 usage percentage this season is only slightly higher than his 24.9 USG% after joining the 76ers last season.
And Harden’s floor generalship makes for an ever-so-slightly elevated use. Per Spectrum, Harden has completed 610 of his 837 touchdowns this season, and his passes have averaged an impressive 1.23 points per direct pass. This is one of the best points in the league, commensurate with numbers generated by top assist producers in Tyrese Halliburton (1.12 points per direct pass), Chris Paul (1.31 points per direct pass) and Trae Young (1.31 points per pass). Direct Pass). So, yes, Harden touched the ball a lot. But most of the time, those touches ended in a pass, and Harden was setting up his teammates with dimes when he passed. In the long run, this can only bode well for Embiid’s scoring.
Ground Level: After so few games, no one can make a slam dunk case in either direction about whether the correlation between Harden’s absence and Embiid’s explosion is motivational. I suspect that Harden’s ability to draw attention from opposing defenses and set up his teammates with good passes will ultimately help Embiid’s scoring efficiency but not enough to completely overcome the low volume. While Embiid should put up big numbers either way, his numbers are likely to drop once Harden returns.
But there are other factors at play here as well. The ultimate objective of this exercise was to determine whether to advise FBA managers on their teams with Embiid to remain the two-time MVP runner-up, or perhaps trade him while his value is at a relative maximum. I would argue that looking at the whole situation, trading high on Embiid may be advisable. Embiid has missed at least 14 games every season in his career, and the number was closer to 20 absences per season in the last four seasons. He has already lost four out of 14 games this season.
Therefore, it is already advisable to consider trading the Embed when it is at a higher level before being forced to miss the crucial moment. Also, you have to keep in mind that Maxi has become more of a usage player this season as well. With Harden and Maxi combining for nearly 35 shots, more than 14 assists and more than 10 boards from the backcourt, I think Embiid’s upside is overshadowed after Harden returns.
I recommend that fantasy hoops managers solely enjoy video game numbers like Embiid’s Wilt. But I also recommend that you talk to your league-mates about those numbers at every opportunity to try to trade Embiid for Wilts-like Avengers value once Beard comes back.