Tracy McGrady had harsh words for Sixers center Joel Embiid
As a refresher, earlier this season Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley ganged up on Embiid, going after the big man and saying he wasn’t mentally locked in with the game, and missing out on his ultimate ceiling as a result.
"“I know I have that potential, but I haven’t shown that, especially this season,” Embiid said.“I appreciate the, whatever they said, I think it played a part in whatever I did tonight.”"
Barkley, speaking directly to Embiid said that he needs to be more aggressive and to set the tone for the Sixers each and every night.
"“You’ve got a chance to be the best player in the world,” Barkley said."
O’Neal and Barkley were just the start, though.
Tracy McGrady throws some shade at Sixers center Joel Embiid
On a recent podcast appearance with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on their show All The Smoke, Tracy McGrady spoke about teaming up with Joel Embiid.
When Jackson suggested Embiid as a player McGrady would fit perfectly with, McGrady said:
"“I love Embiid, but we might fight, bro.”"
Going further, McGrady expressed his frustration with Embiid’s work ethic and his conditioning:
"“Nah, he, forreal he talented as hell, bro, but he don’t be playing like it. You know what I’m saying? That inconsistency ain’t gon’ do it, bro, you gotta bring it. That man got so much talent, bro. I think he’s got to get in better shape, too, man. I love that kid’s game, but he’s got to be more consistent and get in better shape.”"
Embiid’s conditioning has been questioned for years. While rehabbing injuries that defined the start of his pro career, he reportedly got up above 300 pounds, and that reputation has been hard to shake.
Rumors of bringing milkshakes to the team plane (milkshakes that were later said to be not even for Embiid, I might add), undying love for sugary drinks, and him dealing with stomach issues in the playoffs last year have nailed that narrative home.
So, is McGrady right? It might be a harsh way to put it, but if his point is that Embiid can be better, he’s probably right.
Embiid poses a threat as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and a high-powered offensive talent. He’s averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game, getting named to his third-straight All-Star game this year. And the scary part is he almost certainly has a higher ceiling.
Brett Brown believes the big man can play upwards of 38 minutes if the playoffs resume this year, which is encouraging.
It’s undeniable that Embiid could probably reach another level. Let’s remember, though, Embiid is in just his fourth season and trying to find a fit on a roster that doesn’t create the right opportunities for a player such as Embiid.
Al Horford’s signing this summer created a major redundancy and has mitigated the effectiveness of both big men.
It’s important to point out, too, that noted hard worker and former Sixer Jimmy Butler has an affinity for Embiid after seeing his work ethic firsthand.
It’s unreasonable to expect players to jump up to their ceiling so quickly, and Embiid’s process might not be linear, but it is trending up.