The Philadelphia 76ers have not had a typical season. In the span of a few months, they had to endure the Ben Simmons saga as they fought to stay relevant on the court without him.
Thanks to Joel Embiid, the Sixers were able to maintain a solid position in the East and push for the top seed when James Harden arrived.
In what has become the most impressive stretch of his young career, Embiid doesn't have some special method to keep him going. Instead, even amid turmoil and disadvantage, he remembers what he gets paid to do.
When it started to become clear that the Ben Simmons spiral was irreversible, and he'd never play another game for the Philadelphia 76ers, Embiid took a long, hard look in the mirror.
”I just felt like, what are we waiting for?" Embiid told FOX Sports. "Obviously, that's a big hole that we were missing. But I get paid to deliver. It doesn't matter who is playing or not. If I don't deliver on the court, fans are going to be mad. The front office, they're not going to be happy. So it doesn't matter whatever situation I'm in — I still got to go out there and deliver. I just looked at it like, I've just got to go out there and actually do it and prove it."
"It was extremely frustrating," he said. "It was hard to deal with, but as a competitor, I also like the challenge that was presented in front of me to just go out and see if I could do it, see if I could play extremely well."
Against all odds, Embiid has become a major MVP candidate this season. Through 65 games, he is averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game on 49% shooting.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are 48-30, in a position to make a deep run in the post-season.
Obviously, the ultimate goal for Embiid (like any superstar) is to bring home a Championship, and his play will be what takes them there. Lucky for them, Embiid is as focused on the grand prize now as he's ever been in his career.