76ers

Joel Embiid reminds just how good he is with dominant debut

Joel Embiid reminds just how good he is with dominant debut

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Joel Embiid didn't miss a beat.

After being sidelined since Jan. 27 with a torn meniscus, Embiid made his long-awaited preseason debut on Wednesday. He picked up right where he left off from his standout rookie year.

"It felt great," Embiid said after the Sixers’ 133-114 win over the Nets (see observations). "I’m glad I’m back.”

Embiid had 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a block in just under 15 minutes. He shot 4 for 9 from the field and an overwhelming 14 for 18 from the free throw line (see highlights). The center also attempted (and missed) a pair of threes. Even with a monster stat line, Embiid noted he thought his defense should have been stronger. 

"I didn't have a lot of time on the court so I feel like I'm still behind, but with repetition, it's going to come," he said. 

This preseason game was more than just his return from left knee surgery in March. It was his first contest since signing a mega five-year, $148 million contract extension on Tuesday. Embiid showed the Sixers they are getting their money's worth.

"All over the place. Something like tonight will remind us all that's why he was paid what he was paid," Brett Brown said. 

After seeing Embiid's performance, Dario Saric endorsed his teammate's new deal with a smile (more on Saric here)

"I think Bryan (Colangelo) did a good job. He signed him for just $148 million. It's a joke," Saric said. "It's just pure talent. He's got talent to be one of the best to play this game. ... If he stays healthy, I hope I will be on his team ... because of that I can start to celebrate one championship earlier."

Many of the Sixers had not played in a game with Embiid before Wednesday. Ben Simmons got a small taste last training camp but never shared the court in a game. 

Outside of a high-low play in which Embiid fed Simmons for a strong two-handed dunk (see highlights), the pair didn’t connect often throughout the win. Still, Simmons felt the big man’s impact on the game.

"[It's] way easier," Simmons said. "Just having him there, he draws so much attention. It was good for him to get his flow at the start and let him do his thing. As I've said, no one can really stop him. He's a beast down there."  

Embiid didn't show lingering signs in the game from his knee surgery. He said his legs felt heavy at times but he expected that to happen since he hadn't played in so long. 

Embiid was active on all ends of the floor and stayed in the game after taking spills. Brown hopes as Embiid's minutes become more consistent, the center will slow down his pace to avoid those hold-your-breath-as-he-hits-the-floor moments. 

The Sixers have not officially said whether Embiid will play Friday in Kansas City. He would like to not only suit up but also have his minutes increased (he was capped at 12 to 14 against the Nets). Embiid’s goal is to be restriction-free for opening night on Oct. 18.

We finally have footage of Markelle Fultz's rebuilt jump shot

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The Players Triune/Facebook Watch

We finally have footage of Markelle Fultz's rebuilt jump shot

No more cryptic Instagram posts. No more Zapruder-type videos.

On Thursday, Markelle Fultz gave us a glimpse of his much-anticipated jumper via an interview with the Denver Nuggets’ Isaiah Thomas for The Player’s Tribune.

The biggest takeaway? What a huge improvement from anything we saw last season.

It’s certainly encouraging, but there are still things we need to see. All of those shots were set shots off the catch. We still need to see him shooting off the dribble, at the free throw line and in game situations.

During an almost 20-minutes conversation with I.T., Fultz talked about the injury that affected his shot. He dealt with a scapular muscle imbalance, which was finally diagnosed in late October after a weird start to the season.

The biggest question involving Fultz is whether the shot change caused the injury or the change occurred because of the injury. Fultz gave a clear answer.

“There was a lot of things going about changing shots and all this, but there was an injury there,” Fultz said. “For me, I’m a hooper so I was like ‘this ain’t going to stop me.’ Once I realized I really couldn’t do stuff to my full capacity, I was like ‘it really is something’ so I had to find out what it was and we did that throughout the season.

“It took a long time, which people really didn’t understand. They thought I was just being soft but it was really an injury. And now I got a chance to just sit down and pick apart all these doctors – we figured it out and I’ve been back to work this summer and everything’s even better than what it was.”

Fultz was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 and for good reason. He had a stellar one-and-done season with Washington. The Sixers traded up to acquire the rights to select Fultz, primarily because of his fit with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Part of that fit centered around Fultz’s jumper.

When Fultz got hurt, all of that changed. He played in just 14 games and struggled in his limited playoff action. The team won 52 games and a playoff series with him mostly as a spectator.

Now fully healthy, Fultz has spent the summer in L.A. working with training guru Drew Hanlen, who’s worked with Embiid and Jayson Tatum, among others. The work appears to be paying off.

“Sixers fans are gonna get somebody that’s going to come in and play hard,” Fultz said. “I think I’m going to be that guy that’s going to be able to create shots for himself and his teammates. That guy at the end of the game when you need a bucket – you don’t really have to call a play. I’m going to get out there on defense. Most people don’t know I like to block shots so I’m going to be a big point guard out there.”

You can check out the full video here.

More on the Sixers

Get to know Serena Winters, NBC Sports Philadelphia's new Sixers reporter

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NBC Sports

Get to know Serena Winters, NBC Sports Philadelphia's new Sixers reporter

Please give a warm welcome to Serena Winters, NBC Sports Philadelphia's new multiplatform Sixers reporter. Serena will join Marc Zumoff and Alaa Abdelnaby on all Sixers telecasts, and she will cover the team across all of NBC Sports Philadelphia's digital platforms. You can follow her on Twitter @SerenaWinters, and you can hear from her in her own words below!

***

When I was in high school, my mom and I were in the car talking about colleges, and my mom asked the typical question: "Have you thought about what you want to do with your career, honey?"

At the time, I was a three-sport athlete, playing basketball, golf and track and field. Basketball was always my first love. I remember being the only girl on a boys team at the Boys & Girls Club in my elementary school days and thinking, "I’m going to be the first woman in the NBA!"

Fast forward to that car ride with my mom, and I knew deep down I wasn’t going to make it as a professional athlete. I loved basketball, but I wasn’t getting recognized by any D-1 schools. I loved golf, but I knew my bogey talents were more suited for Sundays with friends. And despite being pretty darn speedy on those 200M curves, I’m pretty sure I peaked as a freshman. 

So there we sat. I was coming back from a Model United Nations conference (similar to a debate team), and I was getting pretty good at the whole public speaking thing. I loved it actually. 

And my mom said, "Well, have you thought about sports broadcasting?"

Have you ever had that *light bulb just went on* in your head moment? I’ve only had one, and that was it for me.

I attended UC Santa Barbara, volunteering for the sports radio station before I even took my first class, and interning for the Lakers by my senior year. After graduation, it was a mix of valeting cars to pay the bills and a lot of working for free (I really put that college degree to use right off the bat). 

Then came Lakers Nation, and a few years later I joined the Lakers' TV network as a reporter. Earlier this year, I left the Lakers to join the NBC Sports family at NBC Sports Northwest, hosting my own show. From covering the Trail Blazers to riding in IndyCars, it’s an experience I will never forget.

This summer, NBC Sports Philadelphia came calling, and the opportunity to be back working in the sport I grew up loving, with a team that I’ve watched and admired over the past several years, was something I couldn’t help but smile about. I visited the Philadelphia 76ers headquarters. I met with Brett Brown, and I stood out on the second floor overlooking the practice gym. It was then that I got that gut feeling that you always hope for when making a big decision. That gut feeling said this is where I’m supposed to be, working for all of you, the fans, and bringing you the very best coverage of your favorite basketball team, in the best damn sports city in the world. 

All I ask of you is to give me the chance to make you proud to say that you have the best coverage of any NBA team in the Association. This is your team, and I want to cover your team in the best possible way. I can’t wait to get to work, and if you see me around, please say hi!