Sixers: 5 things we learned at media day

Joel Embiid, James Harden, Sixers media day (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, James Harden, Sixers media day (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
5 of 5
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Sixers media day: It all starts with defense

The Sixers’ focus on toughness naturally equates to a greater focus on the defensive end. Joel Embiid said it plainly: he wants Philly to be the best defense in the NBA. There’s no doubt Philly has the personnel. Tucker, House, and Melton are all plus defenders who will play major roles. Thybulle is still in the mix (fresh off his second All-Defense berth), and Embiid is one of the best defensive anchors on the planet.

For Embiid, the Sixers’ pursuit of top NBA defense starts with him. He plans to “stop waiting until the fourth quarter” to lock in. That’s probably an oversimplification of Embiid’s approach — he’s an elite defender even at half-speed — but when you carry the offensive burden Embiid has carried the last two years, it comes with certain sacrifices. If Harden is closer to prime Harden, however, and if Maxey can take the next step, then Embiid can theoretically refocus more of his energy on the defensive end.

He will also have more help because of the new additions. There’s also Tobias Harris, who played remarkable defense in the playoffs. If he can commit to that side of the ball in the regular season, with the majority of the offensive burden now split between Embiid, Harden, and Maxey, then we could get the most well-rounded basketball of Harris’ career.

Multiple players, from Harris to Melton to Thybulle, were sure to note the defensive potential of this roster. The Sixers want to compete harder than ever next season, and that starts with digging in on defense. Embiid is the head of the snake, but the entire roster is positioned for success on both ends.

Next. 15 greatest seasons in franchise history. dark