Ranking the Sixers’ most important defenders

P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports /

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia’s most important defender is without a doubt Joel Embiid. The big man is a terror in the paint and his defensive presence deters many opposing players from driving the lane and challenging him at the rim.

Embiid has been voted to the NBA All-Defensive teams in three of his five full seasons of playing which seems to drastically fly under the radar. When the media talked defense with the 76ers it usually had to do with Ben Simmons or Matisse Thybulle. Both Thybulle and Simmons are incredible defenders and deserve the praise and attention they receive. However, it is worth noting that both wing defenders were able to play such aggressive perimeter defense and take calculated risks because they knew Joel was a safety net behind them at the rim. That cannot go unrecognized.

Two years ago, Joel was not only in the discussion for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, but also the Defensive Player of the Year, and there was a valid argument for him to win both awards. Unfortunately as we all know he won neither. And last season, Embiid was even more egregiously snubbed of both the MVP award and an All-Defensive team selection.

This year, for the Sixers to have a deep postseason run, Embiid needs to be this team’s defensive leader and establish the team as tough and gritty. On the offensive end, Joel is the most dominant player in the game right now; that is not where his attention needs to be. We will be able to see after the first couple of games this season if Embiid is showing the defensive effort required.