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Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Hobbled and looking a little hefty, Joel Embiid didn’t exactly flash top form in the 2019 playoffs. In fact, compared to his regular-season efforts, both of his career playoff trips featured downticks in both shooting efficiency and usage. This is why Embiid’s top priority in 2019-20 must be improved fitness.
That might cost him.
Due to slippage from the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers will be even greater threats to reach the Finals next year. With so much at stake, they should proceed with extreme caution when it comes to Embiid. That should mean giving him several nights of rest throughout the season.
There’s no doubting the talent. Last year, Embiid finished seventh in MVP voting, sixth in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus and third in Jacob Goldstein’s Player Impact Plus-Minus. It’s just that the smartest course for all parties involved seems to be limiting him to around 60 games. Bill Walton is the only MVP ever to play fewer than 71 games in an 82-game season.
James Harden, Houston Rockets