Joel Embiid is undoubtedly the Sixers best player. He was a big reason why they even had a chance to take the Celtics series. However, Embiid seems to act like he can play carelessly at vital points in the most important games of the season. Yes, this is his first playoff experience, and he is only a second-year player technically, but that’s no excuse. At times his cockiness seemed to get in the way when they were down in the most important point of the year. By no means did he not contribute—averaging 21.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 3 assists. The thing that gets me is the amount of time he spends on the perimeter and the lack of defense in some of the most important points in the season. He shot a .276 from the arc and he just simply should not be spending as much time as he does out there. In most games, he should be taking two three-point shots max—he’s a center. Yes, defense is harder to find in today’s NBA, although, the Sixers were a top defensive unit in the East, and you wouldn’t know it watching this series. The Celtics frustrated the game plan and limited the physical nature that the Sixers are accustom to playing. It’s a problem that at no point in this series was Embiid the feared rim protector that we need him to be.
Embiid is among the top centers in the East, and giving up defensively will not be tolerated if he wants to be considered the standard in the league. He has work to do if he wants to have the MVP season he claimed as his goal for next year. He’s a very young player with plenty of untapped potential, but now he needs to focus on the facets of his game that need improvement before they become bigger problems. His number one problem was conditioning, which lead to a lack of attention to detail on defense, and lackadaisical rebounding that allowed Boston to gather easy offensive boards, among other issues. His game is well rounded and he should be able to have an outstanding offseason with his current mindset. Both Embiid, Simmons, and the rest of the squad know the hard work that faces them if they want to consistently hang with the NBA’s elite. Embiid cannot give up when putting it all out there, his conditioning needs to be addressed so he isn’t gassed on either side of the floor. That seems to be the root of all his issues. People do need to realize that this is the first time he’s going into the summer healthy. That is a big difference as JoJo was notorious for being limited in games and practice. He will finally be able to train at full capacity, getting his body ready for the wear and tear of the NBA season.
Embiid is already a top center in the East and he’s just getting started. If he can watch the tape from this tough Celtics series and learn from this, next season he can come back better than ever. His physical and athletic advantage, combined with the drive to be great could lead him to not only be the best center in this league but revolutionize the position once again. He played 71 games this year, and he and the Sixers proved they are only getting started. If he could sort these small concerns out he will be an MVP candidate year in and year out. Winning one playoff round is not enough for this team, and they know the work that is required to go further. Whether they add an all-star caliber free agent or not, Embiid needs to improve.