NBA Legend on Sixers All-Star: ‘In the Conversation with LeBron’

Joel Embiid, LeBron James

Getty Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is fighting with LeBron James for league MVP honors this year.

The raging debate over whether Joel Embiid deserves this year’s MVP award has another loud voice in his corner. Former Philadelphia 76ers star and NBA legend Charles Barkley is all-in on the best center in the NBA.

Embiid is averaging 29.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in his fifth NBA season while garnering the sixth-most total votes (nearly 4.2 million) for the All-Star Game. He’s the starting center for the Eastern Conference and his name tops a small list of deserving candidates for MVP honors. It’s Embiid versus LeBron James and Donovan Mitchell right now, according to Barkley.

“When Joel Embiid’s in the post, he’s right there in the conversation with LeBron and Donovan Mitchell for MVP this season because he is just killing people,” Barkley told the Bill Simmons Podcast. “You put a little guy on him, he’s just gonna kill him in the post.”

The Sixers’ fun-loving big man has put the league on notice while missing six games due to “back tightness.” Embiid recently described how he uses mind games to draw fouls on less savvy opponents, calling it “being smarter” and dismissing flopping claims. His 11.3 free throws per game rank number one in the NBA.

“He’s just killing people because you can’t guard him,” Barkley said, via Philly Voice. “You cannot guard this dude. He’s just too big, too strong, too quick.”

Sixers President Sick of Ben Simmons’ Criticism

Everyone in Philadelphia has an opinion on Ben Simmons and his unwillingness to develop a mid-range jumper. He owns arguably the best handle in professional basketball, wowing with his playmaking and setting up teammates for easy looks on the regular.

But, why can’t he step back and made opponents pay from deep? It’s a question Sixers president Daryl Morey is sick of hearing.

“The focus on the things he can’t do is pretty maddening, personally, to me,” Morey told 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “The reality is if Ben was on a different team, where everyone on the floor was a shooter in space, that would be optimal for Ben, but it wouldn’t be optimal for … his chances to win a title.”

Simmons is shooting 56.2% from the floor this year on 260 field-goal attempts, but he’s only launched six total three-pointers (30 for his career). His detractors believe the point guard is too one-dimensional and turns into a liability in the playoffs.

Apparently, the All-Star voters agree as Simmons finished eighth among qualifying guards with 366,887 votes. He’ll have to rely on the league’s coaches to select him to the All-Star team as a reserve.

Doc Rivers Has Sixers ‘Locked In’ This Year

No one has come out and officially thrown former coach Brett Brown under the bus, but clearly, there is a little smoke. The Sixers have been playing a better brand of basketball under Doc Rivers as evidenced by the team owning the best record in the Eastern Conference. The offense has been running smoother, more fluid — and players just seem locked in. That’s not by accident.

“I think we grew from last year to this year just in terms of maturity, and then you bring coach Doc in and Doc, he warrants respect the minute he walks in the door,” forward Tobias Harris told the Jalen & Jacoby Podcast. “He just has guys locked in. He’s holding us accountable night and night out and really the goal that he’s trying to get this whole team to realize is, we have a chance to win a championship and we need to get there.”

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