Embiid claims he’s ready to be ‘a complete player’
CAMDEN, N.J. >> Joel Embiid, rumored since 2014 to be coming to the NBA, finally will play a little formal basketball Tuesday.
Cleared by doctors to participate after a two-year ordeal with foot trouble, Embiid will practice with the Sixers as they begin training camp at Stockton University in Pomona, N.J. More, Embiid announced Monday that he would play in the Sixers’ preseason opener, Oct. 4, against the Boston Celtics in Amherst, Mass.
“I am really excited,” said Embiid, during media day at the Sixers’ new practice facility. “I have gone through a lot. It has been two years. And the fact is that I am healthy now and ready to get back on the court ... I can’t wait.”
So on the court, the 7-0, 275-pound center will be Tuesday. How often the third overall pick in the 2014 draft will actually play games, however, remains unsettled.
“I just don’t know that right now,” general manager Bryan Colangelo said. “The medical team and medical experts have said there will probably be some restrictions, whether they are minutes restrictions or restrictions on back-to-back games.
“It’s safe to assume he will not be playing in back-tobacks.”
That would be the unsettling news for the Sixers. As for a positive, evidently the two years of rehabilitation has made Embiid quite the basketball stylist.
“I think of myself as a complete player, being able to score the ball if needed and to add a defensive presence,” he said. “And the coaches want me to be a playmaker. So I see myself as a complete player. I still have to work on my game and perfect it. But I see myself as a confident player.”
Monday, Embiid was confident enough to announce his desire to be named as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year and to have a 20year career.
While Embiid will be in a structured basketball setting Tuesday, one that may or may not be visible to the media, he has participated recently in informal games at the practice center.
“I had a chance to test myself against all the guys who have been in the gym and I have been doing pretty good,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better than what I was two years ago. It’s not even close.
“I had a chance to shoot a lot. So my shooting improved. I’ve gotten stronger, faster and quicker. I have to thank the coaching staff for making sure I was doing the right things. It will be really interesting when the season starts.” *** Ben Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the last NBA draft, attended the Eagles game Sunday. There, he saw Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in the last NFL draft, thriving and delighting Philadelphia fans.
At the minimum, that gave him ideas.
“I watched him and he played real level-headed,” Simmons said. “He kept calm. I can learn a lot from him. They definitely didn’t do well last season, but they are 3-0 and are doing great. And for a rookie to come in and do that, it’s special.
“They love sports here. There’s no question about that. It means a lot see people wear my jersey around Philly. It’s kind of weird seeing my name and number. I just hope to give something back to Philly and just work hard.”
Evidently, he has done that, saying that he was around 217 pounds at the time of the draft and since has grown to 250, adding to his potential.
“Potential is one of those words that can go down or up,” he said. “There is a lot of ‘potential.’ But I have to put in work. Because if I don’t put in the work, it won’t matter.”
*** Jahlil Okafor, whose rookie season ended with a knee injury last Feb. 28, is at full health.
“I feel good,” he said. “I was recovering, trying to get back to 110 percent. And I was able to do that. I feel really good. I am staying disciplined with my diet. And I am trying to be at my careerbest fitness.”
*** NOTES >> The Sixers will be training at Stockton from Tuesday through Friday ... Elton Brand, re-signed as much for his veteran’s presence as for his ability to register the occasional doubledouble, will try to settle Nerlens Noel, who isn’t thrilled with the Sixers’ decision to cram him into a center depth chart with both Embiid and Okafor. “He is not holding the best cards right now,” Brand said. “But let the chips fall. Don’t be an outsider. Be a part of the group. You are going to play. The best players are going to play. He is going to have the ability to get minutes.”
Joel Embiid, is confident he’s healthy enough to finally show off his stuff. And Embiid thinks he’s a much better player now than he was in college.