Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid said he wasn’t concerned about whether the Sixers landed LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard or Paul George during the offseason because he wants to become a better franchise cornerstone than any of those superstars.
On Wednesday, Sarah Todd of the Inquirer provided comments from Embiid, who noted he’s aiming to become the NBA MVP next season.
“When my season ended, there was a lot of talk about adding guys. I literally did not really care because I want to get better,” he said. “I want to be better than those guys that were mentioned, if I’m not already better than them.”
James opted to join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, George re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Antonio Spurs traded Leonard to the Toronto Raptors.
The Sixers, who are among the top contenders for the Eastern Conference crown following James’ departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers, were limited to more modest additions. Acquiring Wilson Chandler in a deal with the Denver Nuggets headlined the depth upgrades.
Embiid isn’t concerned about Philly falling behind in the NBA’s never-ending arms race, though.
“We won 52 games, which nobody thought would happen; we won 16 games in a row; we thought that we had a chance to go to the Finals,” the 24-year-old rising star said about the 2017-18 campaign, per Todd. “The approach doesn’t change. Still the same. We’re just going to do our thing.”
He added: “I feel like if I’m an MVP candidate or if I win the MVP, that means we are on another level.”
Embiid averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 blocks across 63 appearances for the Sixers last season. He ranked 11th in the NBA in ESPN’s real plus-minus, one spot ahead of James.
Philadelphia (+1,600) is currently fifth in title odds for next season behind only the Golden State Warriors (-175), Boston Celtics (+550), Lakers (+700) and Houston Rockets (+750), according to OddsShark.
Landing James, Leonard or George could have pushed the 76ers past the Celtics as the East favorite, but they are still firmly in the mix despite not making a major offseason splash.
Courtesy: Bleacher Report