Joel Embiid is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA. His playstyle is the center of focus among NBA observers, as he draws contact at an agonizing rate for spectators tuned in to watch a fast-paced game. Despite the flopper moniker attached to Embiid, you can't deny his talent. He can do things at his size that many are unable to do and he does not hesitate to use that part of his game, making his comments about San Antonio Spurs rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama baffling.
The Cameroon-born center does not play an all-out physically dominant style like Shaquille O'Neal was known for. He does not have the same exact size Shaq did, but he is a massive human. With strong, imposing centers down across the league, Embiid could impose his will similarly if he wanted to.
He does get physical at times, but Embiid has averaged at least three 3-point attempts per game since 2016. The 76ers have enjoyed primetime for years now, so basketball fans are very familiar with his game and have watched him do crossovers, stepbacks, and pull-up jumpers from the deep midrange area. To act like Wemby has to choose one spot of the floor to be dominant on to be successful is just incorrect.
Wembanyama is a special player and he should lean into that
Imagine watching a Mission Impossible movie, and the boss of Tom Cruise's character, Ethan Hunt, informs him he can no longer push the limits to the edge to accomplish his goals. At that point, the movie is over. The magic is gone and this is now your run-of-the-mill action movie fans have seen a million times. You don't nickname a phenomenal talent "The Alien" and then tell him to play like an ordinary human.
LaMarcus Aldridge recently gave Wemby some advice that works much better for the young French star. Developing an unstoppable move is more important than trying to put yourself in a box based on location. Wembanyama has the tools to become an assassin on the perimeter as much as a force on the interior.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on what he should be doing, but having too many cooks in the kitchen is never ideal. What everyone needs is patience; he's still only 19 and he's averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. He's going to be just fine.