Doc Rivers realizing that Joel Embiid is a better defender than he thought

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is putting up big numbers on the offensive end of the floor and there is no denying that, but he is not just a one-way player. The big fella is one of the better defenders in the NBA as well.

Embiid is one of those shot blockers that make defenders think twice and sometimes even three times before putting up a shot against him. His instincts and timing in order to get a blocked shot are impeccable and that allows the Sixers to be one of the better defensive teams in the league.

Even in the pick-and-roll game, coach Doc Rivers is able to use Embiid up more on the ball-handler while also having him stay back in the paint to protect the rim. He offers a lot of versatility and that is something that Rivers did not realize when he took over the job.

“I thought Brett (Brown) did some great stuff with Joel in the pick-and-roll last year,” said Rivers. “We’ve put him up at times and back so I think we move them around a little bit more, but Jo has been fantastic and I thought he was last year as well though. He’s a better defender, I will say that, coaching him than I even thought, which helps me, obviously.”

Embiid’s ability to be up on the pick-and-roll while also going back and protect the rim is impressive. He’s one of those guys who just has great size and skill and that allows him to be the defender that he is.

“He’s just smarter,” Rivers added. “Smarter and able to cover ground. With this size, I never realized that he had the feet that he has and his IQ helps too. He’s a very smart defensive player so you don’t really know that till you coach a guy. I’ve been very impressed with him.”

As the Sixers get set to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, they will need Embiid to continue his strong play on defense against a tough Cavs team.

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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