The Philadelphia 76ers have struggled to complement Joel Embiid all season. His comments come as little surprise.
Remember will Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, and the Philadelphia 76ers pushed the world champion Toronto Raptors to the brink in a seven-game series? Remember when “run it back” became the offseason mantra of an entire fanbase. Remember when the front office then ignored the fanbase and went a completely different direction?
Ah, to be a Sixers fan. A life of pain, disappointment, and relentless bewilderment. No NBA franchise has so aggressively challenged the limits of the human psyche, nor so blatantly stretched the boundaries of internal suffering. To be a Sixers fan is to live and breathe in flames.
In a recent appearance on J.J. Redick’s new podcast, Joel Embiid made a stunning (read: completely expected) admission about his performance during the regular season. Embiid’s struggles in 2019-20 have been well-documented, with many (correctly) blaming the poor roster construction around him.
So, maybe it’s a bit surprising to hear Embiid admit this in a public forum, but his sentiments were plainly obvious well before they were spoken. Anyone with functioning eyesight could tell you Embiid was “not there” for stretches this season. And it all ties back to roster construction — Brett Brown could never get things to click the same without Redick’s 3-point gravity or Butler’s deft playmaking touch in the halfcourt.
Thankfully for Philadelphia, Embiid has been much more present and engaged since the Sixers arrived in Orlando. The insertion of Shake Milton into the starting five has boosted the spacing, while Ben Simmons’ season-ending injury only increases the necessity for Embiid’s dominance.
Regardless of the roster around him, Embiid has the ability to single-handedly take over games. It helps, however, when he’s not surrounded by redundancies and sluggish decision-makers, as has been the case this season. Redick’s chemistry with Embiid was unrivaled, and his relationship with Butler has been well documented.
Embiid is not alone in his underlying frustration. Even if the addition of Al Horford and Josh Richardson brought about optimism initially, it’s abundantly clear that Philadelphia’s decision to cut and run from last season’s core was a mistake. No matter how “troublesome” Butler may have been, the Sixers should have made every effort to keep him around.
The Sixers need to make a concerted effort to improve the roster this summer. For their own good, and for Embiid’s good.