NBA

Sixers star Embiid eyeing MVP after heartbreaking season, Simmons ready to shoot

By Sports Desk September 30, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid wants to win the NBA's MVP award and lead his team to the Eastern Conference top seed following a heartbreaking season.

The 76ers fell agonisingly short of a Conference Finals berth after succumbing to Kawhi Leonard's stunning Game 7 buzzer-beater and eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in May.

Embiid – who dealt with injury and illness throughout the playoffs – was left in tears after the game but the All-Star is setting huge goals in 2019-20, having been haunted by the loss to the Raptors.

"Last year I played the most games I've ever played, 64. This year I see myself playing over 70 games," Embiid told ESPN.

"That's going to be good for us because we're trying to get the number one seed and we're trying to win over 60 games. It's going to help me because I need that team success if I want to win be able to win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year."

"Last year I started off too high, playing 35-36 minutes a game and then I started slowing down," said Embiid, who averaged 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds during the regular season.

"This year, we're going to start off, not slow and not a minute restriction, but we'll start off at the right number, like 30-31 minutes to start, and then as the season goes on you start ramping up.

"It's hard to balance it. I'm competitive. I want to be out there with my guys. But you can win MVP playing 70 games."

The 76ers head into the upcoming season as one of the challengers once again, despite the departures of Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, thanks to the re-signing of Tobias Harris and arrivals of Al Horford and Josh Richardson. However, all eyes will be on 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons and his shooting.

Simmons averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists last season to earn his first All-Star selection, but the former number one draft pick's three-point struggles and reluctance to shoot from beyond the arc were well documented.

However, after a gruelling off-season with an emphasis on his shooting woes, Simmons said: "If it's open, I'll take it.

"It just changes the dynamic of the game and the way guys have to guard you. Once I get into rhythm and feel comfortable, I think it will change a lot of things."

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