Charles Barkley expects Joel Embiid to be in MVP conversation
Hall of Famer Charles Barkley believes Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid can enter the conversation for Most Valuable Player in the upcoming 2019-20 season. The former Sixer has been somewhat harsh on today’s Sixers stars during the regular season and even more so in the playoffs, but Sir Charles admits there’s a part of him that still roots for them:
“I’m a big Ben Simmons fan. And I want him to do like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Keep working on his game, become a very good shooter, because if he keeps working on his jump shot, he’s going to be one of the best to ever do it,” Barkley told Michael Lee of The Athletic. “Joel, I expect him to be in the MVP conversation. I think he got mad at me because I suggested his conditioning wasn’t up to par, which it wasn’t. I know they try to be careful with him, because he is injury-prone, and that is why I think swimming would be great for him.”
Embiid seemed to take a Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors pretty hard on himself, something that Barkley thinks will spark a change in the 7-footer:
“Joel was crying after (Game 7), and that let me know. We all cry after games like that, so now, he’s like, ‘I got to get better,’” Barkley said. “When you’re a great player and you’re not winning all the time, it’s tough. One thing about being the man, you get all the credit, but you get all of the blame. I tell my guys today when I talk to them. It has nothing to do with being right or wrong, that’s just how it is. I don’t take it personally. You know, you got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m going to do the best I can and that’s all I can do.’”
Embiid is already among the shortlist for the best players at his position, but he could take one major step up if he can lead his team to a top-three finish in the Eastern Conference and eventually push them past the second round in the postseason.
A lot of it will be based on his health and endurance, but the 25-year-old has all the skills to make his case for MVP, so long as he can remain on the floor and contribute. Embiid has lost 25 pounds, which is something Barkley said he needed to do in order to get in better shape, so the big man seems primed for a huge season.