The Philadelphia 76ers have emerged as one of the best teams in the NBA this season. Although the entire team has played well, Joel Embiid deserves the biggest share of credit for this success.
The All-Star center is having an incredible season, and he is getting all the recognition that he deserves for that. Embiid is a front runner to win the 2022 NBA MVP award as well.
But the biggest improvement in Embiid's game has been his ability to lead the team. Now, if you are wondering the reason for that, the 76ers center revealed that himself in a recent interview.
Surprisingly, he claimed that the Ben Simmons trade saga played a role in it. Of course, he said that it was a draining time for his teammates and himself, but he found a silver lining in it.
Via The Athletic:
"It was a tough situation to navigate and go through (with Simmons). Even to this day, I don’t have any hard feelings towards everything that happened. But being in my position, having to answer questions about that whole thing every single day, it was kind of draining. And I’m sure it was draining for my Sixers teammates. So the drama was pretty crazy, but my whole thing going into the season was to come in and try to be a better leader. In the past, I was trying to lead on the court, by my play, and I was never really focused on off the court and what I could bring to the table.
So, you know, I knew the situation we were in, and I didn’t know what was going to happen, so I had to make sure that I brought it off the court and on the court. On the court, just try to play at an even higher level than I did last year. The knock on me was last year that I wasn’t healthy enough. So to come back, take another step (with his play), and then also stay on the floor for the Sixers, that was a big goal for me. When you look at this year, sure it looks like I missed, what, 12 games or whatever. But nine of them were due to COVID and all that stuff. So I’m really happy, and I’m excited for myself."
Embiid is someone who has sustained a lot of injuries in his career. In fact, when he was handed a huge contract by the 76ers after the first three seasons, he was shocked. After all, the big man played just 31 games in that time period.
But that is no longer the case. Embiid has not only taken much better care of his body, he has also become a reliable leader for his teammates. The only question that remains is can he lead the Sixers to an NBA Championship? We will find out soon.