Joel Embiid determined to enter 2023-24 season “in the best shape of his life”

Embiid, 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid reacts after making a basket during the first half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Reigning MVP Joel Embiid is on a mission to return next season better than ever, specifically as it relates to his playing shape, after a disappointing end to the 2022-23 NBA season.

According to ESPN Insider Ramona Shelburne, the Philadelphia 76ers‘ superstar, and two-time scoring champion is dedicated to coming back at the start of next season in better shape than ever. Shelburne told ESPN,

“I’ll tell you this, he wants to come back in the best shape of his life and so when you talk about players losing weight and all that, that is a goal that he has set. Until we see it, let’s push pause on that…”

Embiid’s weight, game shape, and general health have been a signature talking point accompanying his entire career. After missing the first two seasons of his career with foot and back injuries, Embiid has only played in 65 or more games twice since being drafted in 2014. In those two seasons, which took place during the past two years, he played in 68 and 66 games, respectively.

Joel Embiid Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) watches from the bench as the 76ers fall behind the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 7 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Given his lengthy injury history, it’s unlikely that Embiid will ever play north of 75 games in a single season. One could even argue it would be unwise as the goal, the only goal that matters anymore, is to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Philadelphia for the first time in over 40 years.

Again, Embiid’s health has been at its peak over the past two seasons, which has allowed him to enjoy heights rarely seen in the league, but especially by a center in today’s NBA. While that is the case, both injuries and fatigue did rear their ugly head in the postseason, which heavily contributed to the team’s early exit.

Despite his long pined for MVP recognition, the job is still not finished, as Joel Embiid well knows.

Winning MVP is not enough, and Joel Embiid knows it

Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid reacts after the 76ers won an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Friday, March 10, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

While it’s easy to assume a player would feel some level of contentment coming off of winning the regular season MVP award, that does not appear to be the case with Embiid, at least according to Shelburne.

Great players, championship-level players, understand the old saying that “complacency is the enemy of progress.” If Joel Embiid is to ever ascend to another level and carry the Sixers to the promised land as few in Philadelphia have done in the past, it was always destined to lead him down the path of most resistance. Now it’s up to travel down that road and lead Philadelphia to glory.