Sixers Notes: Embiid, Harden, Tucker, Rotation

Sixers center Joel Embiid, named on Friday as one of three finalists for the NBA’s 2022/23 Most Valuable Player award, says he’ll take it in stride if he falls just short of earning the honor for a third consecutive year. However, Embiid admits it would mean a lot to him to be named MVP, as he tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape.

“This year I’ve made a commitment to not put myself out there, talking about I’m the MVP, or saying I want to win,” Embiid said. “For the guys that keep saying, ‘It’s whatever, I don’t care about winning it, doesn’t matter.’ But it’s all bulls–t. You want to be the MVP. That means a lot being the MVP of the league. There are only certain guys that get the opportunity to have their name on it. It would be a great honor. But I’m the point now where I’m used to (the MVP talk). If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, great.”

The runner-up to Nikola Jokic in 2021 and 2022, Embiid appears to be in a good position to claim his first MVP award in 2023 after leading the NBA with 33.1 points per game and guiding the Sixers to a 54-28 record. Embiid is considered a better defender than Jokic and played about 260 minutes more than Giannis Antetokounmpo, which may help give him a leg up on his fellow finalists.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • As he prepares to face his former team in the first round of the playoffs, James Harden reflected on the criticism he faced a year ago for forcing his way out of Brooklyn to Philadelphia. “There’s a lot of internal things that was going on, which was one of the reasons why I made my decision,” Harden said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “And everybody talked down on me and gave me negative feedback or whatever you want to call it. But now fast forward today, nobody’s like, ‘OK, James was smart, James knew what he was doing.’ Which I don’t want credit, but it’s like, I’m happy where they are now. I mean, best of luck to those guys and (Nets owner) Joe Tsai and that organization. They turned what they had into something really good, so they’re in the playoffs and nothing but great, great talk about those guys and organization.” Harden, of course, was the first of three Nets stars to request a trade; Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving eventually followed suit.
  • P.J. Tucker‘s 3.5 points and 3.0 field goal attempts per game in 2022/23 represented the lowest marks he has ever posted as an NBA regular. But Tucker’s teammates and opponents recognize the value of the Sixers’ major 2022 free agent addition, especially in the postseason, as Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes in a subscriber-only story. “P.J. was just the aggressor, the starter that got us going,Bam Adebayo said of his former Heat teammate. “I feel like that’s what defines P.J. … his energy toward, ‘I’m going to do everything right.’ I think you need a P.J. on your team.”
  • Kyle Neubeck of examines some of the most important rotation decisions the Sixers will have to make in the postseason, including how to handle the backup center minutes behind Embiid and whether to lock in Tucker and Tobias Harris as every-game closers alongside Embiid, Harden, and Tyrese Maxey.
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