As summer winds down, it’s not just the Philadelphia 76ers that are ramping up for next season. Across town, the Eagles are a mere 11 days from their season opener against the Detroit Lions.
On Tuesday, NFL teams had to trim their rosters down to 53, meaning some hard decisions loomed on the horizon. Ultimately for the Eagles, though, the most eyebrow-raising move was an addition, not a subtraction.
The team pulled off a trade with the New Orleans Saints for defensive back CJ Gardner-Johnson. And while Gardner-Johnson will certainly have an instant impact for the Eagles going forward, Sixers fans might be more interested in his past.
Back in May 2022, Gardner-Johnson sounded off on his feelings about the NBA MVP. Or, put bluntly, about Joel Embiid not winning the individual award.
“So Embiid NOT THE MVP ….. smh,” Gardner-Johnson tweeted.
With love like that, there’s no question Gardner-Johnson will enjoy his new city and fit right in.
Embiid Not the Favorite to Win MVP This Season
While Gardner-Johnson was shocked that Embiid’s stellar 2021-22 campaign didn’t make the cut for MVP, analysts are still bearish on his chances next season.
In a survey of their basketball experts, ESPN declared Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo the likely MVP award winner next season. Embiid finished tied for second with Mavericks star Luka Doncic.
After finishing as runner-up for two straight seasons, the prospect of falling just short yet again is not the news the Sixers big man likely wants to hear. And he’s made his feelings on the individual honor clear.
“Last year, I campaigned about it,” Embiid said during a May 2022 press conference. “I wonder what else I have to do to win it, and to me, it’s like, at this point it’s like, it’s whatever. It’s all about focusing, not that I wasn’t focused on the bigger picture, but you know, it’s really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing.”
Last season, Embiid became the third center since 1980 to win the scoring title, a testament to his evolution as more than just a dominant defensive presence. Further, he put to rest any fears over his health and durability, starting a career-high 68 games last season.
It’s hard to imagine what else Embiid must do to earn the individual title. Perhaps marry his defensive numbers (which dipped a tad last year) with his stellar offense from last season?
Insiders High on Sixers Offseason
Despite not going all in on Embiid as the MVP, the insiders over at ESPN favorably rated the Sixers’ offseason.
In a survey of ESPN’s basketball writers, the Sixers finished second (two votes) in voting for teams that had the best offseason. Unfortunately, the Boston Celtics ran away with first place (six votes) after adding Malcolm Brogdon.
“Philadelphia was praised, in similar fashion,” Tim Bontemps wrote for ESPN on Tuesday, “for being able to address some weaknesses this summer by adding P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and De’Anthony Melton.”
One scout that Bontemps spoke with also spoke favorably of the Sixers’ offseason additions, arguing, “They plugged holes. I don’t think it made them the best team, but they addressed their weaknesses pretty well.”