There is no denying that Sixers center Joel Embiid has played well since making his return to the lineup. Even after missing ten games, there have been minimal signs of rust from Embiid, and he has reminded everyone why he was in the MVP conversation before going down to injury.
In his most recent performance, he would go for 35 points and attempt 20 free throws in a ten-point win over the Boston Celtics. Despite his huge scoring outburst and being borderline un-guardable, Embiid would still be very critical of his game.
"I'm not all the way there, but tonight was a big step, especially going from the Minnesota game. I felt better, but I still got a long way to go before I get back to where I was before I got hurt," he said.
After his return on Saturday against the Timberwolves, Embiid would say he felt rusty on the defensive end of the floor. The same would not be said after Tuesday's win against Boston.
He would start by saying he thought he was great on the defensive end. Following that up by saying he's "still got a long way to go" before returning to form.
Along with breaking down his defensive showing from the game, the All-Star center would hint at some goals he has for himself moving forward.
"My goal is one of these days [to] win Defensive Player of The Year and be on All-NBA Defensive teams."
This is not something new, as Embiid hinted at this in the past, but the wording is what stood out. In the past, he has talked about winning the award this season, but now he is speaking as if it is a future goal.
Either he feels it is too late for him to be in the running this season, or he is pulling for teammate Ben Simmons to be named with those honors.
Winning DPOY might be out of the picture this season, but All-Defensive honors could still be in play. There is no denying that Embiid is one of the top defensive centers in the league, and even after missing ten games, some of his defensive timing is still there.
If he can put together a good stretch to end this season, he could potentially check one of those goals off his list.