76ers coach Brett Brown says Joel Embiid wasn’t always coachable this season
“There were times I wasn’t happy,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said Thursday afternoon. “If you can’t coach your best players, I call it buying time and dying. You have nothing. I tell my guys all the time you want me to coach you. You want to show up and be on time. You want to do the right thing. You want to act the right way.
“Nerlens (Noel) was no different. Other young players go through the same thing, and (as a coach), you go through heartache. You go through things where you have to stand up and say that is not part of our culture. That is normal with any young player and Joel was a part of that.”
Embiid turned a corner when doctors cleared him for on-court activity.
“When he started going to the court, his world changed,” Brown said. “He had his spirit again, and things got a little bit easier. I don’t begrudge Joel or Nerlens — they’re 20-year olds. It is my job to coach them and build a culture. That is what we experienced this year, but we will be better off for it, like we saw with Nerlens, when [Embiid] is a playing member of the Philadelphia 76ers.”
Embiid not being fully committed while injured should be a red flag, but a small one. It’s not easy for anyone to give 100 percent when they’re incapable of doing what they know they can.
That his energy rose when he got on the court is no surprise, and hopefully, that’s more predictive of his future.
This season alone should not convict Embiid as a malcontent. But if he again shows he’s not fully committed, this season will serve as evidence to create an unfavorable picture of him. For now, it’s just something to tuck away.
Embiid, even if he resisted, hasn’t and won’t undermine the 76ers’ culture. But going along with it will help him develop, as Nerlens Noel showed after his own season-ending injury.
Now, it’s on Embiid to show his issues were a frustrated-with-not-playing problem, not an Embiid problem. If they were the former, they’ll disappear once he gets healthy. If they’re the latter, there’s a problem.