CAMDEN, N.J. — Finally, there are no restrictions on Joel Embiid.
For the first time in Embiid’s career, Brett Brown should have his star center at practice every day, he shouldn’t have to worry about minutes restrictions, and he should be able to put Embiid in the lineup for back-to-backs without a second thought.
At one point in January, Brown mentioned that, “Joel practicing today makes it one of my happiest days.” So you can imagine how he feels about having an unrestricted Embiid this season.
“We all look at the ups and downs that the season had, whether it’s an injury or a mask, it’s hard for him to find his own personal rhythm and it obviously affects the team,” Brown said at training camp Sunday. “This year, you come in and with everyone’s health, there’s a fluid side of everybody’s world — coaching, playing, individuals’ worlds — that we haven’t experienced before.
“I think he’s going to be dominant. I really think he’s going to be dominant. There’s not one thing I’ve seen this summer or in this gym behind me that suggests otherwise.”
We already know Embiid thinks he’s going to be dominant — an MVP contender, in fact. He worked with trainer Drew Hanlen this summer to sharpen his skills, especially in the low post, and make that goal a reality.
“I feel like every time I catch the ball, it’s either a foul or a bucket,” Embiid said. “We’ve been working a lot on handles and taking care of the ball. Sometimes that’s my downfall, so I've got to fix that. We’re going to see what I do.”
No casual scrimmage
Brown didn’t just roll the ball out and let his guys play at the Sixers’ end-of-practice scrimmage. His assistant coaches frequently stopped the action to set up plays in special situations or let the players know if anything wasn’t to their liking.
His new lead assistant, Monty Williams, was heavily involved. At one point, Williams wasn’t happy with how his team had run a sideline out-of-bounds play and walked them through the various options they’d missed out on.
“We have to get better at our execution. Just run it again,” he said. “I don’t care if it works; just run it again.”
Monty Williams working on the details: "We have to get better at our execution." pic.twitter.com/asWSBpO3Mk— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) September 23, 2018
Williams thinks the biggest area he can help Brown is with the details (see story). He seems to already be making his mark.
“Last year watching the series, I think Boston just kind of got into them — that was the series. They had a chance to win. I think that’s kind of the focus this year, to try to match that intensity and beat Boston.”
–New Sixer Wilson Chandler on how the team can overcome the Celtics
“My first two years, rehabbing the whole year and the offseason too, and coming into my third year, the same thing — I think I got here a couple days before the actual season. I don’t remember really playing preseason. And then last year … wait, this is my fourth year? No, this is my fifth year — time goes by fast.”
“And then last year, coming in and also rehabbing, I think I got here a week before the season. All those offseasons I wasn’t really allowed to work out and work on my basketball skills. So this summer, that’s what I was doing, and I’m excited. We’re going to see where that takes us.”
–Joel Embiid on the benefits of his first healthy NBA offseason