Every player comes to training camp in the best shape of their life. It’s fascinating how all NBA players eat salmon and workout over the summer. We ignore most of them telling us that, but a few players stayed on our radar – no-one more so than Joel Embiid. One of the best big men in the league, Embiid, always seems like he is a few cardio sessions away from greatness. He never seems to get there.
Former players always take the most interest in players that play the same position. That’s why Shaq spends a lot of time talking about Embiid and putting pressure on him to be great. This will come at a shock, so brace yourself – Philly fans take it personally and call it “hate.” After Embiid had a 22 point game vs. the Nuggets, Shaq explained why he criticizes Embiid:
“Embiid had 22 points, right? So when Charles and I make comments like ‘He’s not playing well‘ people think it’s hate. It’s not that it’s hate; it’s that we see greatness in him. 22 is OK, but it ain’t great.”Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq has a simple recipe for big men – score 7 points a quarter. If you can’t do that, you are not a great player. Averaging 28-30 points a game shouldn’t be out of reach for Embiid, and Shaq wants to see it happen.
Chuck talked about something else they are looking for in great players. The 76ers were playing the Nuggets, whose best player is Embiid’s matchup – Nikola Jokić. Shaq and Chuck expect Embiid to bring something extra when playing against one of the best players in his position.
“I love it when people say, ‘We play every game the same.‘ First of all, that’s bogus. You don’t play 82 games as hard as you can. But, I know this – when I’m playing against Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, guys who are great power forwards, my antennas are up.”Charles Barkley
Chuck called out Embiid (and Jokić) for looking like they don’t feel like being on the court. Both of their teams are doing fine, the 76ers are third in the East, and the Nuggets are 5th in the West. But in a season when so many teams can get to the Finals, you expect to see their best players coming into the season as good as ever. So far, that hasn’t been the case