Joel Embiid is the heart and soul of this era of the Philadelphia 76ers and while the superstar center is universally acclaimed for his skills, he's not always been everyone's cup of tea. Embiid is an expressive player and often acts in different ways on the court. He has also been accused of flopping and acting in his NBA career.
Funnily enough one of the people to call him out in the past was current Sixers Acting Head Coach Dan Burke. When Burke was at the Indiana Pacers in 2018, he had called out Embiid for getting away with a number of unnecessary antics on the floor.
“I hate that team. I really wanted to win that game. I think Embiid gets away with a bunch of crap the league ignores. It would’ve been a good one to just walk away from.”
Now that he's at the Sixers though, Burke seems to have changed his mind about Embiid. He spoke about Joel after the Sixers star was instrumental in a win over the Rockets on Monday night. He complimented Embiid on the energy he brings while also breaking down what makes the 7-footer so good on the court.
“I always thought he was a post player who’d shoot an occasional three, flop all the time. He doesn’t flop anymore, by the way. But the skill level he brings, he’s just much more than a post player. He has high IQ; you can use him in different spots, you can move him around the floor. … I’m just impressed with his skill set.
“And then, on a personal level, even from last year to this year, his approach coming in every game, every practice, I see an improvement. And all I mean by that is coming ready. Now, just like other players, he’ll say, ‘Oh, we’ve got practice.’ But he’s a guy where it’s like going to a family reunion; you complain about going there, and then when you’re there it’s a great time and you’re glad you did it. He’s been a joy at practice. He’s got to lead that way, in my mind.”
It's no surprise to see that Burke has changed his mind after spending time with the energetic Embiid and watching him dominate up close. Embiid continues to be important for the Sixers, who are 17-8 when Embiid plays and 3-8 without him. If he can stay healthy, Philly might just be able to make some noise in the East.