For a team that hasn't won many games in the past few seasons, Philadelphia 76ers' media day rarely fails to be interesting.
Last season, Nerlens Noel spent part of Media Day explaining his comments that the Sixers' logjam at the center position was "silly." Of course, there was the year when Evan Turner cursed on the team's livestream before being interviewed by a strapping young lad named Max Rappaport. And let's not forget that back in 2012, Media Day was the only time that we ever saw Andrew Bynum in a Philadelphia 76ers' jersey.
This year wasn't much different: Between the questions surrounding Joel Embiid's health and the arrival of J.J. Redick, there was a different kind of energy in the team's practice facility earlier today. And over the course of four hours, the assembled media uncovered quite a few nuggets about the 2017-18 Sixers as they head into training camp.
Embiid: Still not cleared to play 5-on-5
Following up on his comments from last week, Sixers' president Bryan Colangelo reaffirmed that Joel Embiid has yet to be cleared to resume full basketball activity.
"We feel he's on course to ultimately be available for our intended goal, and that's the regular season," said Colangelo on Monday.
When asked about his current status, Embiid said that he feels "great", and that and no issues have been found in the couple of follow-up scans that have been performed since his surgery.
According to Embiid, if it were Game 7 of the Finals, he'd be out on the court. But much to the dismay of Sixers' fans - and members of the team's sales department - the center admitted that expecting him to play every game this season is probably unreasonable.
Embiid: "I'll be honest - I don't think I'll play 82 games. But hopefully, I'll do that." #Sixers— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) September 25, 2017
Ben Simmons: Monster Among Men
During Simmons' media availability earlier today, I tweeted that if his on-court performance matches his off-court swagger, the league is in line for a serious awakening this year.
Obviously, a player needs to have a certain level of confidence to even make the NBA, but Simmons appears to possess a boldness uncommon in most 21-year-olds. On Monday, he said that he could serve as the leader of the team, and it seems like he's already making his presence felt on the court.
Justin Anderson on Simmons: "How he carries himself, how he talks... he's not a rookie... He can play the game. He can dominate the game."— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) September 25, 2017
More Bayless: "Ben has all of the talent in the world. Ben can become whatever he wants to be, it's up to Ben."— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) September 25, 2017
Simmons, when asked about what he's gotten better at: "Everything."— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) September 25, 2017
Justin Anderson refers to Sixers' rookie PG Markelle Fultz as "Quick Wash" due to his impressive spin moves. And to hear Fultz tell it, he's been working on those moves virtually every day this summer: The 19-year-old reported that he's been in the gym 24/7 trying to learn the nuances of the playbook.
"My advantage of being so young is... I can do this all day," said Fultz.
First, there were the Beatles. Then, there were the Heatles. And now, there are the... well, we have plenty of time to figure out what to call the Sixers. But a team with Embiid, Simmons, Fultz and Saric - with 14 scheduled national TV appearances - will be a hot topic on the NBA debate circuit this season. And while Justin Anderson doesn't figure to be one of the leads in this traveling road show, he knows that the spotlight will be on he and his teammates.
Gym Battles, Non-Pokemon Go Edition
It's a common Media Day trope, but when multiple members of the organization stated how competitive they expected the preseason to be, it felt a little different this year.
This is far and away the most talented set of players Brett Brown has mentored in Philadelphia, and the fifth-year coach has his work cut out for him when it comes to divvying up minutes. Players who would have started on past Sixers' teams might rack up DNP-CDs this season, and that's a testament to how good this team can potentially be in a couple of years.
Stauskas: "It's going to be the most competitive camp that we've had since I've been here. I feel like Philly is home for me now." #Sixers— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) September 25, 2017
Colangelo: "The gym is going to dictate who plays... it's going to be a highly competitive training camp." #Sixers— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) September 25, 2017
It's Bigger Than Sports
Anderson, Jerryd Bayless and J.J. Redick were all asked questions with a political bent on Monday, and from their responses, it's clear that they (and the rest of their teammates) won't sit idly by as the line of demarcation between sports and politics continues to blur.
"I think we're all in agreement in that locker room on the things that are going on, and we're all looking to do our part to help shine light in the right direction," said Anderson. "And that's to help build unity, to help lift up people in a time that people are being pushed down, and we just want to just make sure that we have each other's backs."
Chronicles of Redick
J.J. Redick hasn't spent a lot of time with his new teammates, but he appears to be willing to assume the mantle that comes with being one of the more experienced players on a club.
Redick as a leader: "I don't think you just show up & start talking to people... these things happen a little more naturally..."— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) September 25, 2017
Redick noted that everyone he talked to this summer had nothing but glowing things to say about head coach Brett Brown, and he's excited about the number of players on this team who have what Redick terms as "elite skills."
"I thought that this was a team that was trending up," said Redick. "I thought that my skill set and my personality could help them trend in that direction a little quicker."
Ironically enough, Redick wouldn't be here if it wasn't for "The Process" and he admits that he wasn't the biggest fan of the Sixers' team-building strategy.
"I was fairly outspoken for my disgust for Sam Hinkie's decisions," said Redick. "I've gotten to know Sam a little bit, and he's brilliant."
We think so too, J.J.