The Philadelphia 76ers may not be getting Ben Simmons on the court anytime soon, but it appears they're getting a motivated Joel Embiid.
“He’s in great shape. He’s in much better shape, which is great because last year he took a big step in conditioning. And this year, he comes in and he’s in even better shape," Sixers coach Doc Rivers told reporters Wednesday.
Conditioning has been an issue throughout Embiid's career, and the team has worked hard with the All-NBA center to improve his diet and his offseason training regimen.
The Sixers' biggest hope is that Embiid can translate his offseason work into staying on the court for an entire season. He has missed at least 18 games in each of his first seven NBA seasons and missed his first two campaigns because of a foot injury. He spent the offseason rehabbing a meniscus tear that cost him time in the Sixers' first-round playoff series against the Washington Wizards.
"It's been fine," Embiid told reporters. "I've just been working out all summer. It's been fine, no problems. I'm getting back to where I was and I feel pretty good."
The Sixers will need Embiid on the floor as much as possible if Simmons follows through on his plan to not report to the team until he is traded. Any injury to Embiid, if Simmons is playing elsewhere or at home, could create havoc for a team that's already in a bind.