“Joel Embiid predicts 76ers will end Cavs’ reign as soon as next year” -- Sporting News
If Joel Embiid does one thing almost as well as he plays basketball, it’s make headlines. The only problem with that is occasionally his words wind up getting blown out of proportion.
Technically, Embiid expressed his belief that the Sixers can compete with LeBron James and the defending world-champion Cleveland Cavaliers next season. Then again, promoting that as the heart of Embiid’s statement really isn’t in the spirit of what he said.
You be the judge. Is Embiid predicting the Sixers will end the Cavaliers’ reign, as multiple outlets are suggesting? Or is he simply observing the Sixers are built to one day take the Cavaliers’ place as the class of the Eastern Conference, and should be able to fight for a spot at the table as soon as 2018?
“I think we’re building up at the right time and when we start getting good that’s when Cleveland and LeBron (James) will start going down,” Embiid said at the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday, via Keith Pompey for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think when it is all said and done and we actually mature and are ready to compete for a championship, I think we’ll be great.”
“When I say we are going to be ready to win when the Cavs are going down, that doesn’t mean five years. Next year, I think we are going to be ready to win.”
It’s pretty clear what Embiid was driving at here. James is 32 and bound to start slowing down soon. As he does, the Cavs will slide with him. Meanwhile, the Sixers are set to make their fourth consecutive top-three pick in the NBA draft this year. They have a chance to develop into a dominant force over the next decade, but if everybody is healthy, are certainly talented enough to compete right now.
That seems fair. The condensed version, on the other hand, only aims to put a target on the Sixers’ backs.
“Joel Embiid says 76ers gearing up to beat Cavaliers, LeBron James” -- ESPN
“Joel Embiid Says 76ers Will Win Next Year” -- Bleacher Report
“Joel Embiid Says Lebron and Cavs ‘Going Down’” -- Total Pro Sports
The fact of the matter is Embiid is correct -- that is, what Embiid actually said. The Cavaliers are built around the best player in the NBA, and as his talent erodes, their time at the top dwindles. Whenever that time comes, five years from now or next, the Sixers will be poised to strike.
Then again, there was one story that both takes Embiid to task and probably has it right.
“Joel Embiid is targeting the Cavaliers but he should be aiming for the Celtics” -- Philadelphia Daily News
With the Boston Celtics emerging from the lottery with the No. 1 pick, already playing the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals and sharing the Atlantic Division with the Sixers, Embiid may have his sights sets on toppling the wrong foe.