Joel Embiid’s conditioning has always been a big talking point when discussing the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately, various injuries have hindered him on and off as well, and his fitness hasn’t always been at an ideal level for him to maintain peak performance. This was the case at times this season. His effort wavered here and there, and some nights he just looked a bit sluggish. Even though some of this could be him saving himself for bigger games or focusing on the playoffs after last year’s heartbreaking elimination, it’s fair to say that conditioning is a factor sometimes.
How Embiid returns after months away from NBA games and typical training due to the coronavirus pandemic has understandably been a concern for fans. Thankfully, head coach Brett Brown has been incredibly complimentary of the work Embiid has been putting in since the season was suspended.
“Let’s start with the respect and applause I give him for putting in time,” Brown said in a conference call with reporters today, per Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice. “There is nobody on our team that has put in more time than Joel Embiid.”
“Forget what he has actually done in the gym for a minute, just go to the man-hours and consecutive days and the amount of days he has put in over the past few months. I’m proud of him, I respect him. He needed to do it, we understand the impact he can have on our team.”
Brown also said that he expects Embiid to come into camp in as good a shape as he’s been since Brown started coaching him, as Jason Blevins of 97.3 ESPN mentioned.
Obviously it’s natural for a coach to support and hype up their players. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what kind of condition Embiid is in. But at the same time, it won’t do Embiid any favors if these kinds of comments go way overboard and set Embiid up to disappoint. Brown knows this.
If Embiid really is in excellent shape and ready to join a healthy, “good to go” Ben Simmons, then the good condition of the Sixers’ young stars will easily be the most important factor in this team maximizing whatever potential it has for this year’s playoffs.