Kevin Durant

Joel Embiid doesn't want Sixers to end up like OKC

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Joel Embiid doesn't want Sixers to end up like OKC

Joel Embiid doesn't want the Sixers to end up like the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Not the 2017-18 Thunder, but OKC circa 2011-12.

Embiid is convinced that at some point soon, the media will turn on him and the Sixers. 

Speaking specifically about the core trio of Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, Embiid told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:

"I think with everything, the main thing we have to do is just stay together because I feel like there's going to be some type of situation where people say who is better between us three. And that's how it splits."

Shelburne, who wrote a long and interesting feature on Embiid this week, told more of the story Wednesday on Zach Lowe's podcast.

She recalled talking to Embiid about his social media presence at All-Star weekend in 2016, when he told her, "I'm just trying to have as much fun before everybody turns on me."

Shelburne pointed out the uniqueness of a then-22-year-old — who had been in the United States just seven years — understanding the "fame cycle" well enough to know that things could soon turn.

"I saw what happened in Oklahoma City with (James) Harden, (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant and I don't want that to happen here," Shelburne recalled Embiid saying.

If the Sixers get to that point ... it'll probably be a good problem to have. Just prior to the 2012-13 season, the Thunder traded Harden to Houston in one of the worst trades in recent NBA history. OKC did it for several reasons — salary cap, personalities, only having enough shots to go around. And really, who knows if Harden would have been able to grow into this superstar had he been sharing the ball the next handful of seasons with two other alphas?

Embiid and Fultz have already grown close, and it's important to Embiid that the three young Sixers don't get caught up in the "Who takes the last shot?" conversations or "Who should be the All-Star" questions that inevitably come up. 

Luckily for the Sixers, Embiid, Simmons and Fultz have different enough skill sets that they should be able to coexist. It's not directly analogous to the OKC situation where all three players needed the ball in their hands. The Sixers were built this way for a reason. 

Right now, it's clear Embiid is the alpha of the group. He's the go-to guy in crunch time and again has a top-five usage rate. When Simmons eventually becomes more comfortable with his jump shot and Fultz finally makes his impact on the court, we'll see whether or not Embiid was prescient.

Joel Embiid roasted the Warriors even after tough loss

Joel Embiid roasted the Warriors even after tough loss

Every time Joel Embiid takes the basketball court — or pulls his phone out of his pocket — he has the ability to surprise us with a new move.

Jojo went toe-to-toe with the NBA's best Golden State Warriors on Saturday night, particularly chatting it up with Draymond Green, and held his own in a tough loss in front of a packed house of Philadelphia Sixers fans.

Embiid is clearly in opposing teams' heads at this early stage of his career. Prior to the game Saturday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said what Joel did in L.A. last week was "terrifying." Then, following the Golden State win, Kevin Durant said they didn't want to lose to the Sixers because then they'd have to hear about it from Embiid on Twitter afterward.

“We wanted to win this game really, really bad. After being down by so much. And we didn’t want to lose to these guys, especially [Embiid]," Durant said.

“He woulda gone straight to Twitter and start talkin’ shit.”

Welp. The Sixers lost and Embiid found a way to roast the Warriors anyway. That's a new one!

The man is creative. A classic throwback burn to the legendary 3-1 collapse to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lovely.

There's something about the way Embiid talks trash that other teams appreciate. Following the game on Saturday night, Draymond said he respects Embiid's trash talk game because he doesn't just talk when the Sixers are winning, he talks smack the entire game no matter what.

That's dedication to his craft.

Sixers-Warriors observations: Defending champs pull away in 2nd half

Sixers-Warriors observations: Defending champs pull away in 2nd half


OAKLAND, Calif.  — The first two quarters were a game of back-and-forth. The third was a Warriors’ takeover.

The Sixers and Warriors swapped leads 16 times in the first half before the Warriors, well, played like the Warriors out of halftime to claim a 135-114 victory Saturday night.

• The Sixers trailed by only four points after one in spite of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons uncharacteristically going scoreless. The Warriors committed eight turnovers in the first quarter, nearly half of their season average 16.6 per game. Those early errors led to nine of the Sixers’ 28 points in the quarter.

• Kevin Durant (29 points) was just getting started, though. Even as the Sixers outscored the Warriors in the second quarter, Durant dropped 20 points in the first half to give his team a 65-64 lead. Durant was supported offensively by Steph Curry (22 points) and Klay Thompson (23 points), while the Sixers were right in the game even though no player had reached double digits. The Warriors outscored the Sixers 15-5 at the line in the first half.

• The Warriors ended the second quarter on a 6-0 run and carried that momentum into the third. They broke a 74-74 tie with 7:29 remaining to go on a 20-5 burst over the next five minutes.

• Golden State outscored the Sixers by a dramatic 15 points in the third while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three. Simmons (0 for 3 from the field) went scoreless again in the quarter. Unlike in the first, the Warriors didn’t give up any points off turnovers; the Sixers committed seven.

• The Sixers' deficit was too deep to overcome in the fourth. They trailed by 26 points at one point with Curry and Durant on the bench the entire final quarter.

• Simmons garnered high praise from Warriors head coach Steve Kerr before the game. “This guy’s a bulldozer, like LeBron (James), Magic (Johnson), just powerful and springy. He’s got one of those sort of strange games because he’s not a shooter. He finds angles. He finds different ways to score the ball that are unorthodox and difficult to guard.”

Still, Simmons struggled offensively in his first game against the Warriors, who focused on limiting him in transition. He went scoreless in two quarters and shot 6 for 17 from the field on the night. Simmons finished with 13 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four turnovers.

• Embiid’s declaration to Draymond Green that he was “going to kick his a--” didn’t happen. Embiid shot 4 for 11 from the field for 12 points, his second-lowest total of the season. He grabbed seven rebounds and committed as many turnovers.

• The Warriors' top scorers were dangerous, as usual. In addition to 29 from Durant, Curry and Thompson combined for 55 points. Draymond Green neared a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. The team shot 58.2 percent from the field and 96.2 percent from the line overall.

• The Warriors and Sixers entered the game first and second in assists with 31.0 and 25.9, respectively. The Sixers actually had the edge on the Warriors, 30 assists to 28. Simmons, T.J. McConnell (7) and JJ Redick (6) combined for 21.

• Richaun Holmes got the backup center minutes (23), which wasn’t surprising given the Warriors’ uptempo system. Brett Brown has praised Holmes for his “bounce” on the court. Holmes fouled out with 1:45 left in the game. Brown subbed in Justin Anderson instead of turning to Amir Johnson, who had been sitting the entire night.

• Injury updates: Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) was on the bench with the Sixers. He broke a sweat in pregame shooting drills (not long-range jumpers) … I saw Nik Stauskas’ sprained right ankle before the game. Yikes. He suffered the injury after stepping on a teammate’s foot during practice Friday. Stauskas has to wait for the swelling to subside … Jerryd Bayless remains out with a left wrist contusion … Former Sixer Andre Iguodala sat out for rest.

• Former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie was in attendance. Hinkie also was at last season’s Sixers game in Oakland.

• Oracle Arena gets loud when one of the Splash Brothers nails a three. Klay Thompson brought the crowd to their feet and they stood for the Sixers’ final possession of the first half.

• The Warriors presented James Michael McAdoo with his 2017 championship ring prior to the game. McAdoo played his first three seasons for the team and was part of two title-winning teams. The Sixers signed McAdoo to a two-way contract this offseason. He is averaging 7.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his first four games with the Delaware 87ers.

“I’m thrilled that he’s here,” Kerr said.