The Philadelphia 76ers have become one of the top teams in the league over the last couple of seasons. The charge has primarily been led by the dominant play from Joel Embiid as the centerpiece of the puzzle. Following a disappointing second-round playoff exit, Embiid has his eyes locked in on some major aspirations in the team’s hunt for an NBA title.
Joel Embiid’s rise to stardom
Over the last couple of seasons, Embiid has had a steady rise to the top as one of the best players in the league. He has established himself as an elite player on both ends of the floor that could be argued as being the NBA’s best big man.
It hasn’t always been a smooth road for Embiid due to nagging injuries, but he has proven to be a dominant force on the floor earning back-to-back All-Star selections, All-NBA Second Team nods, and All-Defensive Second Team selections. He’s coming off his best campaign that saw him average 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in a career-high 64 games played in the regular season.
The only thing that has truly held Embiid back has been his health, but with better management of his workload and minutes, he has been able to help lead the 76ers to great heights.
Joel Embiid’s Championship Motivation
The rise to the top of the NBA has also put the 76ers in the thick of the conversation as a legitimate title contender. In the process, Embiid has fully embraced the steep challenges that have come with that territory.
Heading into his fourth full season on the court, the 25-year-old has acknowledged that he must play at an MVP level for Philadelphia to have a real shot at winning an NBA title, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
“Last year I played the most games I’ve ever played, 64. This year I see myself playing over 70 games,” Embiid said. “That’s going to be good for us because we’re trying to get the No. 1 seed and we’re trying to win over 60 games. It’s going to help me because I need that team success if I want to win be able to win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year.”
Embiid has certainly shown he possesses the capability to earn an MVP or Defensive Player of the Year award. The only hurdle that has kept him from those honors has been his health as he has struggled to stay on the court. If he’s able to demonstrate more durability, earning either or both of these awards could become realistic outcomes.
76ers’ expectations for 2019-20 season
Following Kawhi Leonard’s departure to the LA Clippers, it has opened up the Eastern Conference for teams like the 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks to step in as the top squad.
Despite much change over the offseason, Philadelphia has retooled their highly talented roster by retaining Tobias Harris, signing Al Horford, acquiring Josh Richardson, and seeing continued improvement from Ben Simmons. There will be an adjustment period to get the new pieces into the loop, but this shouldn’t stray them away from remaining in the picture for the best overall record.
The 76ers may have plenty of talent, but their title chances will squarely lie on the health and play of Embiid. He is the driving force of the franchise and will dictate how far the team will go in their pursuit of a championship.
Embiid appears to be ready for the challenge while using last season’s playoff exit as additional motivation that could possibly see him put forth his best season.