Embiid has strong, smart response to Ty Lue's FT whining

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In case you don't live online (in which case I envy you) there's been a bit of a kerfuffle between Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and Clippers coach Tyronn Lue over how many free throws the Sixers shoot.

To be clear: the Sixers shoot a lot of free throws. But it's because the Sixers also have two extremely good, dominant players.

Lue stoked the flames earlier this week when, shortly before the Clippers were smoked by the Sixers, he complained about the Sixers' ability to get to the line and shoot free throws, asserting that Joel Embiid and James Harden wouldn't be as effective without their free throws. (That's true of literally any player, but I digress.)

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Morey responded by pointing out to Lue the Clippers would have the worst offense in the league without their free throws, and things devolved into uglier finger-pointing from there.

But on Thursday, nearly a week after Lue's initial comments, Embiid himself finally had a chance and a platform to give a direct answer about the "he's only good because of free throws" whining that Lue and jealous basketball fans everywhere have been trafficking in.

On JJ Redick's podcast, Embiid was asked directly about people who don't like his free throws. Here's the exchange between Redick, Embiid, and co-host Tommy Alter:

"REDICK: You're right. You're taking advantage of rules that are in place. There is this weird Twitter discourse that pops up every time you have a big game.

"EMBIID: Free throws.

"REDICK: It's like, 'If you took away Joel's free throws' - 

"EMBIID: That don't make sense!

"REDICK: - 'he would only average 18' or whatever, you know?

"EMBIID: That don't even make sense! If you took away, I don't know - if you took away [Redick's] shooting, would you have been an NBA player?

"REDICK: Wow. [Laughs] Probably not. 

"EMBIID: Alright, so that's what I'm saying. You made it because that's what you're good at. Why do I get to the free throw line so much? I get doubled and tripled every single play, and that just shows that you can't guard me one-on-one. If you do, I'm going to score or I'm getting to the free throw line. That's just the way it is. I'm physical, I'm going to attack you, and I'm going to score. If you don't foul me, that's what's going to happen.

"ALTER: So when Ty Lue says that, is that just working the refs? Next time they play you guys, just putting it in their head?

"EMBIID: Yeah. So that one game I think I went to the line 27 times. Literally I was 23 for 27. Going into the next game, I already know I'm not getting to the free throw line. I already know that the next game they're not going to call anything. So my mindset is, I know that so I'm going to be even more aggressive. I'm going to make you call fouls."

I mean, it's pretty hard to argue with the logic.

And it's an obvious argument, but for some reason it's hard for basketball fans to grasp: if you can't guard Embiid, your only other option is to hack him. He's simply bigger, stronger, and more talented than other players in the league. It's not cheating; it's a difference in both size and ability. Sorry about it!

Embiid isn't the only one who takes advantage of his grasp on the game, either, and he pointed that out elsewhere in the podcast, likening his acumen and knowledge to one of the league's most savvy (and frustrating to face) players in Chris Paul:

"That's not foul-baiting. You played basketball, that's basketball IQ. [...] I'm in the penalty. Right before that play [...] I knew that they had a couple fouls. It's easy. This is basketball IQ. People are always saying 'flops' or 'foul baiting' but that's just me being smarter than everybody else. 

"If we're in the penalty, you know what I'm about to do. You know what Chris Paul is about to do. We're just smarter than everybody else. That's the rules of the game, and we just take advantage of it. That's not my fault, that's not his fault, that's not anybody's fault. 

"If I'm in the penalty, you should know what's coming. You should be studying the game, you should know me by now. You know that at some point, if we're in the penalty, I'm going to swipe through and I'm going to the free throw line. So keep your hands off of me."

Again, fault the logic.

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There are a few guys around the league who don't necessarily stop Embiid but are at least able to disrupt his game a bit. It requires an extremely particular skillset - strong but smart defense, quick feet, long arms, and a big frame - and unless the world starts producing more of those players in bunches, Embiid is going to keep dominating the league from the field and from the line.

I suggest you get used to it.

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