The Philadelphia 76ers‘ season is right around the corner, so the team is working out any kinks at training camp this week. But the team is far from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia or its training facility in Camden, New Jersey.
No, the Sixers pulled a reverse-bird migration and headed south for the late summer. The Sixers will train at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina this week. It’s an unusual choice to spend time fine-tuning things so far from home.
But according to head coach Doc Rivers, the decision to set up camp in Charleston was an intentional one. The Sixers’ head coach told Tim Bontemps on September 27 that camp in Charleston would be part-basketball, part-history lesson.
The Sixers have less than a week to train before their first preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. It’s a game that carries more weight than a traditional preseason game because of the Ben Simmons connection.
Joel Embiid Speaks on Ben Simmons During Media Day
During media day on Monday, Sixers star Joel Embiid was asked about his feelings about last season’s “drama.” Embiid asked for clarification, to which a reporter alluded to Ben Simmons, Embiid’s former teammate in Philadelphia.
Embiid deflected the question, refusing to take the bait.
“I don’t remember any of that. I thought last year went great. As a team, starting the year we weren’t well. I didn’t feel any distraction we were still winning games. We added James [Harden] and we went to another level,” Embiid said.
While the Sixers weathered the storm until Harden arrived, it’s hard to call last season a resounding success. Philadelphia bowed out of the playoffs in the second round for the fourth time in five years.
But the roster looks revamped for a deep playoff run, having added reinforcements to a bench unit that finished 27th in assists and 28th in scoring last season. Further, Embiid finished as MVP runner-up for the second season in a row, a disappointing finish after yet another strong campaign.
Embiid discussed that finish at media day and his goals heading into next season.
Embiid: ‘Whatever Happens, Happens’
Embiid isn’t stuck in the past worrying over his MVP shortcomings. Instead, the former Jayhawk announced his focus on the future and goal to have the best defensive team in the league next season.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Embiid said. “That’s something I’m not worried about at all. All I’m worried about is having the best team in the league because if you win games, everything else is gonna take care of itself so my focus going into this year is I really want us to be the best defensive team in the league and then, offensively, I think we can easily figure it out.”
The Sixers face an uphill climb to have the best defensive team in the league. But if Tyrese Maxey can improve his defense to be just average and Matisse Thybulle continues showcasing excellent perimeter-stopping skills, the team might just be in business.