4. Joel Embiid
Many around the league believe the real prize in Philadelphia isn’t Harden, but Joel Embiid. If the Sixers can’t at least make the conference finals this season, there’s speculation that Embiid could seek to win a championship elsewhere. His recent response to a question by Rich Paul at the UNINTERRUPTED Film Festival only enflamed that speculation.
“I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes,” Embiid said. “I don’t know where that’s gonna be, whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else, I just want to have a chance to accomplish that. I want to see what it feels like to win that first one, and then you can think about the next one.
“It’s not easy, but it takes more than one or two, three guys. You got to have good people around you. … Every single day, I work hard to be at that level so I can produce and make it happen. So, every single day, I’m working towards that goal.”
Embiid is among the most dominate scorers in the NBA. He averaged 33 points on 55% shooting last season, and his size is transformative on defense and on the boards.
The question for Miami is whether it would be willing to part with Adebayo, the franchise cornerstone, for Embiid. Although Embiid and Butler remain close, I question the Heat’s appetite to give up Adebayo for any player in the league. They seem, publicly and privately, committed to Adebayo, who has publicly voiced his desire to finish his career in Miami. But if this were really on the table, they’d at least have to have a meeting about it.