Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid talks about focusing on the defensive aspect of his game in the upcoming 2021-22 season. The 27-year old hopes to be an elite two-way player.
Joel Embiid had an incredible season last year, finishing as the runner-up to the 2021 MVP. In what many believe, he would have been MVP hadn’t he missed games due to injury. The 76ers were the top seed in the eastern conference but underperformed during the post-season.
The 76ers are currently in the eye of the storm due to the Ben Simmons controversy. The team has failed to reach any consensus with its All-Star point guard, with the entire situation becoming hostile day by day. Thus if Simmons doesn’t return to camp, Embiid is looking at additional responsibility for the upcoming season.
Philly head coach Doc Rivers and Embiid’s teammates are well aware of this fact.
“Defensively, [Embiid] being a basket protector is key for us,” Rivers said. “How many times does he have to focus on his guy in this NBA? So his team defense and his voice is vital for us. That’s where we want him to take the next step.”
Embiid is looking forward to his extended role on the team in the upcoming season. The Philly center will be required to take some of the defensive responsibilities of the team owing to Simmons’ absence.
Joel Embiid aspires to be DPOY
The 4x All-Star recently expressed his desire to be DPOY, adding that it’s hard for him as he is asked to do a lot on the offensive end. Embiid is a 3x NBA All-Defensive Second Team and a career 11.3 RPG and 1.7 BPG.
“As I mentioned in the past, I have aspirations to become the Defensive Player of the Year,” Embiid said. “For me, personally, I just got to be more active. It’s hard to do because, offensively, I’m also asked to do a lot. And I don’t mind.
“I love carrying the team on both ends. And I think that’s what probably makes me special.”
Embiid had his career-best season last year, averaging 28.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and 1.0 SPG. Thus with Simmons not agreeing to return to Philly, Embiid has the opportunity to widen his horizon as a player. The 76ers star and Nikola Jokic brought back the era of big men in the league this year.
Daily News | Joel Embiid will be expected to do more on defense for the Sixers with Ben Simmons set to leave town https://t.co/SjMk5jltOd
— Philly Daily News (@PhillyDailyNews) September 29, 2021
With Embiid having a larger role this upcoming season, it remains to be seen how the 76ers plan to use him on the defensive end. Nonetheless, the injury-prone nature of Embiid is a major cause of concern for the franchise heading into the 2021-22 season.