The Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic debate has been one of the recurring discussions around league circles every year. With both players having won the last three Most Valuable Player plums, it’s no surprise that the two are always intertwined with each other for better or for worse — according to the pundits, at least.
Fast forward to the present time, however, Jokic boasts something that the reigning season MVP doesn’t — a championship. Having just hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy and the Finals MVP plum, the Joker has Embiid’s number in the championship tally for now.
That being said, winning a championship requires a lot more than just Joel Embiid, similar to the way it took the Denver Nuggets more than Jokic to clinch their first championship in franchise history. Still, the latter flashed everyone a sustainable blueprint on how to win in the NBA, and it should be something the 76ers organization should actively follow.
It’s time for the Philadelphia 76ers to follow the Denver Nuggets blueprint
In reality, the Nuggets won the title without really introducing something absolutely novel. It would be disingenuous to point to them as the lone messiah that showed the way about how to finally triumph in a league as tough as the NBA.
Nevertheless, Denver showed Philadelphia (and most teams) what it truly lacked in the aspect of championship-building: not forcing the issue and allowing oneself to be vulnerable
Amid the ongoing James Harden conundrum, the 76ers are starting to reel from the inorganic effects of name-hunting. Philadelphia was once the league’s foster child for staying patient and trusting the process — literally and figuratively. Since then, the franchise managed to find its true cornerstone but hasn’t quite figured out how to leverage that talent and surround it with the right pieces.
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From the uneventful ending to the Ben Simmons era to now, Philly never truly followed up properly to their once-patient mission. Unlike Denver, which stuck to its core despite the lack of serendipity in previous years and multiple playoff disappointments, the 76ers yielded to public pressure and never really set the foundation to be a sustainable winner with the same faces for the most part year in and out.
Moving forward, the 76ers should want to follow the Nuggets blueprint in not letting an unfortunate stretch of injuries and agonizing playoff defeats define them. It’s tempting to rush everything in the advent of the player movement era, but the franchise has someone like Embiid who has, so far, showed every sign of wanting to continue to be the captain of the ship.
With the likes of Tyrese Maxey accompanying him, the 76ers should venture into the act of letting this dynamic grow organically and find the right pieces that will best fit this dynamic. Constantly forcing the issue by shoehorning an available marquee player, or changing coaches and an entire front office setup like a wardrobe change is just a masterclass on how to build a team for the soap opera.
The Philadelphia 76ers still have time, fortunately. How and if they will maximize that time, however, will undoubtedly be the determining factor if a championship is realistically within reach.