Joel Embiid hadn’t talked to the media for awhile. He had a lot to get off his chest.
Wearing a black mask after working out before the Sixers’ regular-season finale against the Bucks, Embiid answered questions about his health heading into the postseason. He said it’s “unlikely” he’ll play in Game 1 of the first round (see story).
He also shared his seemingly unfiltered thoughts on a number of other topics, ranging from why he thinks Ben Simmons should be the Rookie of the Year, to why he should win Defensive Player of the Year.
Embiid’s mini-rant started with a question about his take on the Rookie of the Year race.
“Honestly, first of all, I think what they’ve got going on is pretty funny,” Embiid said of the tension between Ben Simmons and Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell (see story).
“A lot of people might have a different definition of what’s a rookie … it happened with me last year, there was a lot of talk about whether I was a rookie or not.”
But Embiid clearly wasn’t persuaded by Mitchell’s sweatshirt and its apparent argument that Simmons, who missed last season with a right foot fracture, somehow has an unfair advantage.
“I remember when I was out, I didn’t get to practice, I didn’t get to be with the team as much, didn’t really get to work out,” he said.
“Ben is the clear-cut guy for that award.”
For the record, Mitchell is averaging 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, while Simmons is posting 15.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game. Simmons has averaged a triple-double during the Sixers’ 15-game winning streak.
Next, Embiid was simply asked if there was anything else he wanted to talk about. Yes … yes, he did.
“I feel like starting with Coach [Brett Brown] taking the team, last year we won  games, people don’t really put him up there for Coach of the Year,” Embiid said. “I think it’s absurd. I think he’s amazing.”
He then seamlessly transitioned into an argument for his own Defensive Player of the Year candidacy.
“It is what is, [the media] has a lot of say in it, but I think he should be the Coach of the Year, Ben should be Rookie of the Year, and I should be the Defensive Player of the Year because I feel like all year long we’ve done it,” Embiid said. “My teammates have helped me a lot and I’m in this situation because of them. I give them a lot of credit. But I still feel like I’ve been the best defensive player in the league this year.
“Last year, I kind of had the knock on me of not playing a lot of games, but this year I’ve played a lot of games, so I don’t know what excuse they’re going to find next.”
Anything else Embiid wanted to air out? Of course.
“I think we got a pretty good chance,” he continued. “At the end of the day, it’s all about winning, and that’s what we did this year, getting to the playoffs and next year … and what else? I should be first-team All-NBA, too. I think I’ve been the best center in the league and I’ve proved it.
“I’ve seen a lot of people put Anthony Davis, but I think he’s a four. He’s had a great season and I have a lot of respect for Anthony Davis, but I think he’s a forward. But I’m glad this season’s about to be over. We got one game more, and now we got our sights on the playoffs.”