Joel Embiid ended last season with something to prove. His team was four bounces away from overtime and a potential Game 7 win against the eventual NBA Champions. Embiid was extremely emotional after the game and let us in on a quick moment showing the humanity of the sport. It’s this that is often lost. The desire, the drive, the heartbreak of falling short of something you have worked so hard for. Embiid has all of these feelings in spades.
While we’ve been able to see Embiid’s intensity at times, we also have seen things we could consider to be less than 100% commitment. The hefty Chik-fil-a diet, the pitchers of Shirley Temples, people have called him out before for his health. Something seems to have clicked through for Embiid. He spent almost this entire offseason out of the spotlight and allegedly on a mission to dominate the NBA.
Joel Embiid recently claimed while taking the Paqui “one chip challenge” that he has lost 25 pounds this summer. Assuming the light-hearted joking to be fact, he seems to have dedicated this summer to fitness. Embiid has been constantly criticized for his lack of conditioning limiting his play especially late in games. It stands to reason that if he were to improve his conditioning, Embiid would be able to perform at a high level and for a longer period.
Embiid is already the best center in the entire NBA. Nikola Jokic is the second-best Center. Jokic is extremely talented and is a much better facilitator, but he is nowhere near the defender that Embiid is. Let me slide this one in here while I’m at it. Anthony Davis is a self-proclaimed Power Forward BUT, if he were considered a Center, Joel Embiid is the more dominant player. Both players are very similar in ability, I give Embiid the edge because I believe he has another level he can take his game to.
Joel Embiid is so talented you wonder, how can he get better? His two biggest faults have been his conditioning and to a lesser degree his turnovers. If he can sure up his handling that is already one huge improvement. Now, if he really has lost this weight and improved his conditioning we can see him maintain this dominance all throughout the game.
The Sixers should look drastically different this year, from the new additions to their two young superstars evolving their game. This year could be the year we see major hardware for Embiid. All NBA, Defensive POV, MVP, and most importantly, bringing us the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports