NBA feature: what next for Joel Embiid?

epa08239456 Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid of Cameroon reaches for a rebound during the NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, 22 February 2020. EPA/TANNEN MAURY SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

Viewers on DStv can look forward to thrills and spills from the world’s best basketball league, as ESPN 2 brings live action from the 2019-20 National Basketball Association (NBA season) this coming week, Friday 4 to Thursday 10 September 2020.

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As the playoffs continue relentlessly, one man who will be looking on in envy is Cameroonian centre/power forward Joel Embiid. The 26-year-old put his body and soul into helping the Philadelphia 76ers in their first round playoff tie against the Boston Celtics, but couldn’t prevent a 4-0 loss.

epa08067485 Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid reacts after making a shot against the Boston Celtics during the second half of the NBA basketball game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 12 December 2019. EPA/CJ GUNTHER SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

The three-time All-Star finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in the fourth and final game against Boston, but despite his heroics there are question marks over his future with Philadelphia.

Victoria University

The Sixers have more than $400 million tied up in Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris over the next several seasons, and the team doesn’t figure to be among one of the Eastern Conference contenders. This had led to speculation as to whether the team should try to trade Embiid or Simmons, and shuffle their pack.

The Yaounde-born player is open to a trade away from the Sixers, though in a perfect world he would stay with Philadelphia and help bring a fourth NBA Championship (and a first since 1983) to ‘The City of Brotherly Love’.

epa08223229 Team LeBron guard Luka Doncic (L) watches as Team Giannis center Joel Embiid (R) scores during the NBA All Star game between Team Lebron and Team Giannis at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 16 February 2020. EPA/NUCCIO DINUZZO SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

“Whatever happens, happens,” said Embiid. “I always say that I want to end my career here. If it happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, well, you move on and all that stuff. But I’m here and I’m going to still try to do my best to bring a championship back to Philly.

“We’ve got a lot of great talent on the team – Ben, Tobias, Al, Shake (Milton), Matisse (Thybulle). Alec (Burks) proved to be a big piece off the bench, Furkan (Korkmaz). We’ve got a bunch of great players, you’ve just gotta find a way to make it work. I think we can. Like I said, I’ve just gotta go about it and just do my job.”

Embiid was the NBA’s best high-volume post player during the regular season and even upped his game for the playoff series against the Celtics, but he admits that he – and his teammates – need to improve their offensive output.

epa08586315 Washington Wizards Thomas Bryant (L) and Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid (R) at the opening tip off in the first quarter of their NBA basketball game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida, USA, 05 August 2020. The NBA season has restarted at the Walt Disney World sports complex outside Orlando, Florida. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

“What I did during these playoffs obviously wasn’t enough,” he said. “I’ve gotta do better, we’ve all gotta do better. … I’m always looking to improve everything as far as my game goes. A lot of people always want me to be a big man and they want me to be (Shaquille O’Neal), but this league and this game (are) completely different.

“They call a bunch of offensive fouls all the time – you can’t elbow people; you can’t use your elbows; you can’t push people all over the place; you can’t post up as much any more. You’ve gotta move the ball and all that stuff. I’ve just gotta work on my game and fit whatever the team wants me to be.”

Embiid, who moved to the United States at the age of 16, represented the University of Kansas in his collegiate career and was the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, has been on the books of the 76ers throughout his whole professional career.

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