the fast-approaching LeBron vs. Embiid MVP debate is going to stress test many relationships.— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) February 10, 2021
The boys have the best record in the East still, with a 1.5 game lead on the Milwaukee Deer who it’s quickly becoming clear we’re not as likely to fear as much as we once did in recent years. At 18-7, most of the stuff that’s happening is good! Joel Embiid is still squarely in the MVP conversation. And there are times when the big fella does not get a box-score statistic but still makes a crucial play, like these contests pointed out by our resident rock star analyst, Tom West. Winning plays by JoJo:
Joel Embiid wasn't at his best yesterday, but he still came up with some big defensive possessions down the stretch.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) February 10, 2021
He had two strong contests at the rim here to lead to a Tobias Harris 3: pic.twitter.com/uwPbqpZVuv
Ben Simmons is trending up. Way up. After some soreness in his not-so-long-ago surgically repaired knee, and some trade rumors, Ben Simmons has been back to the freakishly agile version of himself we saw just over a year ago. It’s apparent that him being in the Defensive Player-of the-Year Category and first team ALL NBA Defense was not an illusion, as he’s become more of an impact player on that end in recent weeks:
.@BenSimmons25 loves playing defense with @MatisseThybulle:— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) February 10, 2021
"I look at him sometimes and I say,
'Hey, it’s time to lock up.'
And that’s what he did in the fourth quarter."
Per Rich Hofmann, of The Athletic, some splits when either Embiid or Simmons is not in the lineup:
Doc Rivers recently addressed this point, that the impact when Simmons is not on the court is huge, even if it’s not as easy to notice as someone who scores lots of baskets.
It’s clear not having one of these two players has a massive impact on an NBA contest.
On the attack.@BenSimmons25 x #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/j6OqFDUq2F— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 10, 2021
I’m extremely encouraged to see Ben looking healthier and healthier recently. There was a moment or two there I was worried that his knee may be a bigger problem than we imagined before the season. But I think he’s good to go now.
Speaking of getting right, Seth Curry looked last night like he made a massive step forward in his struggle back from dealing with COVID-19 symptoms.
Seth Curry is on pace to be the first ever member of the 50/50/100 club.— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 10, 2021
The Sixers are 15-3 when he plays this season. pic.twitter.com/G328Xoa6mk
Pop quiz hot shot: are these highlights Joel Embiid and JJ Redick dribble hand offs, or are they Ben Simmons and Seth Curry:
Great use of DHOs in these plays by Ben Simmons.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) February 10, 2021
With his defender, Harrison Barnes, dropping back (and recovering from the low block in the first play), quick DHOs and solid screens give Seth Curry space to fire from 3. pic.twitter.com/9RmfJLzCQD
Seth is enjoying a career year, and seems like a massive “win” in the trade column for Philadelphia. Recall, they dealt Josh Richardson and one of the second rounders they got from the Knicks for Steph’s brother.
It’s fair to begin to wonder things like “will Embiid really win MVP?” And while I’d certainly put my money on LeBron James, Joel has a shot. Let’s be honest for a moment, LeBron James only has 4 MVP trophies and hasn’t won a regular-season MVP award since he left the Heat. It’s almost bad luck for Embiid because it seems like the voters will have to use this season to correct some of their past transgressions. LeBron has basically been the best player in the NBA for two decades, but voters usually come up with some creative narrative to give the award to someone else. I’m not sure if that happens this year. They owe the man. Oh and I think folks in Denver have a candidate in mind as well that they’d push.
Finally, I do still think the Sixers need someone/something more. I’m not sure precisely what that is. I have heard the rumors about Lonzo Ball being potentially available and he’s a very intriguing player. As a former second overall pick, he seems like the type of “volatile asset” that could propel the Sixers further if he’s able to consistently hit his shot (like his younger brother is).
19-year-old LaMelo Ball is the youngest player in NBA history with 7 threes & the youngest Hornet with 20 PTS/10 AST.— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 9, 2021
24 PTS (game-high)
10 AST (game-high)
7 3PT (game-high)
in 32 MINSpic.twitter.com/HS67BAchi8
I know some fans want Kyle Lowry in a Sixers uni, although I’m not as sure that makes sense. It will be very interesting to see where Team President Daryl Morey and his GM Elton Brand go from here.
But for now, things are humming as players get healthier.