76ers media day takeaways: James Harden lost ‘100 pounds’; Joel Embiid preaches defense; P.J. Tucker update

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CAMDEN, New Jersey — The seasons officially changed from summer to fall last week, which means the start of the NBA season is just around the corner. On Monday, the Philadelphia 76ers kicked off a media day at the team’s practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. The team will hold their training camp in Charleston, South Carolina starting Tuesday.

FROM The Saga of Ben Simmons now well behind them, the 66ers entered media day and camp with much less drama around the team than last season, and this was reflected in the exchanges between players and media representatives. Instead of constant questions about how much the absence of Simmons was a distraction for the team, the bulk of the questions were about how individual players improved in the offseason and how the team can build on last season’s results.

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Speaking of last season, the last time we saw Sixers star Joel Embiid on the court, he played with a broken bone in his face and a torn ligament in his thumb. The big man made it clear that these problems are now clearly visible in the rearview mirror, and that he feels great physically after “laying in bed all summer.” (While Embiid may have traveled several miles on his mattress, he also undoubtedly spent a lot of time at the gym.)

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In addition to Embiid feeling rested and ready to go, here are a few more takeaways from Philadelphia’s media day.

Healthy Harden

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Immediately after the 66ers were eliminated by the Heat in the conference semifinals in May, James Harden opened up about how excited he was to start the offseason completely healthy — something that hadn’t happened in the previous two years. Here is what he said at the time:

“I tried to get through the basketball season two years in a row, and it’s like it’s not right. Do you understand what I mean? All last summer I was recovering. I’m not used to going through something like this, but it is what it is. I’m just happy that I’m healthy now. I have a full summer to clean up and do whatever it takes to be back even better next year. ”

Harden appears to have taken full advantage of his healthy summer as he appeared to be in very good shape on press day. He joked that he had lost “100 pounds” summer, and although he was clearly exaggerating, he was clearly slim. Apparently, in the off-season, Harden really achieved success and even organized team races in Los Angeles. “James did a great job this summer,” Doc Rivers said of his star quarterback.

Harden attributed his productive summer to diet, rest, and simply being healthy enough to get the job done.

“It’s a diet,” Harden said. “It’s a complete rest and then, for me, I think it’s muscle strengthening and muscle mass gains, which I’ve always had. It’s just that for the last year and a half I haven’t been healthy enough to work properly. as I’m used to. This summer has been huge for me in that aspect. Hill running and weight lifting were important and also added skills on the court.”

It will be extremely interesting to see how Harden’s off-season training shows up on the court throughout the season. Despite a long-term hamstring injury and a Brooklyn-to-Philadelphia mid-campaign trade, Harden was the only player in the entire NBA to average over 20 points and 10 assists per game last season.

Focus on defense

Adding two-way players and guys able to do it defensively was clearly a priority in the offseason, so it’s no surprise that Sixers star center Joel Embiid preached the importance of defense to the team. successful.

“Our focus is on defense,” Embiid said. “We aim to be the best defensive team in the league. It will take all of us. I have to go back to not waiting until the fourth [quarter] to be that guy and then do all that… For me, this year we just want to focus on that. Cause if you got stops you can run you can cross you can get Tyreese [Maxey] going.”

The Sixers had the 12th-best defense in the NBA last season, so with the additions they made in the offseason and increased focus on that goal, they should be able to return to the top 10. Two years ago—Doc Rivers’ first season in Philadelphia—the 6ers finished the season with the second-best defense in the league. Getting back close to it should be the goal.

The “we” season, not the “me” season

Sixers third-year defenseman Tyrese Maxey likely came into the media spotlight when asked about his personal goals for the upcoming campaign.

“Coach Doc said something in the locker room recently: It’s ‘we’ season, not ‘me’ season. This season will be all about us as a band, as an organization, and I just want us to be the best we can be… I don’t really care about individual awards, I just want to help my team as much as possible.”

For a team with talent and high expectations like the Sixers, the “we” philosophy, not the “me” philosophy, is reasonable. We saw it early on in free agency when Harden took a pay cut next season to give the 66ers an extra spot in the salary cap to fill the roster, and now Maxi was preaching about it at the bottom of the media. This is clearly something that the team has discussed and if the whole team can really accept and support this mentality, it will be helpful.

Update on PJ Tucker’s Health, Fraud Investigation

Just before media day kicked off, the Sixers announced that their offseason valuable player PJ Tucker had recently undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The good news is that Tucker will not miss any time as a result of the procedure as he is already cleared to work on the court and is expected to be a full member of the training camp.

Both Sixers basketball president Daryl Morey and Tucker himself play down the severity of the procedure. “End of summer, 10-minute treatment,” Maury said. “He’s already back on the court and we’re excited about what he can do.”

“I’m doing great,” Tucker added. “We have done [the procedure] in time to where it made sense to go ahead and knock him out. Six weeks have passed. I clean myself completely, get back on the court and do everything. So I’m excited.”

So everything looks good on that front. Daryl Morey was also asked about NBA Investigates Possible Intervention when it comes to signing Tucker’s team, but he was unable to comment on the matter, noting that the investigation is still ongoing.

Source: www.cbssports.com

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