The 76ers have no complaints about how Joel Embiid managed his health this preseason.
The two-time All-Star center sat out one exhibition game due to load management. He also played limited minutes in others.
“I think he’s been the best that he’s even been,” coach Brett Brown said before Wednesday’s season opener against the Boston Celtics. “This is the best preseason that Joel Embiid has ever had since our time together.”
Embiid was determined to have a great season teamwise and individually. So he put in work and has shown the discipline to give Brown the confidence to make that declaration.
“Is he an A-plus right now? No, he is not,” Brown said. "But he is trending in the way that we want. And nobody asked him to be that on opening night.
“I think we got to land the plane on April 15 [the final day of the regular season] where we can answer that question and say, yup, he’s an A-plus.”
Embiid was hampered by tendinitis in this left knee late last season. He missed 14 of the final 24 regular-season games, as well as Game 3 of the Sixers’ opening-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.
The 25-year-old said at last month’s media day that he was 20 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last season. He added that he wanted to shed an additional 5 pounds by opening night.
Brown was unsure Wednesday if Embiid had lost those 5 pounds.
“He looks good, though,” the coach said. “I have been with him for all of his years [in the NBA]. I feel when I look at him, I think he looks healthy. He looks like he’s ready to have a great season. I do not know what that means, what the scale says.”
Embiid and Ben Simmons headed into Wednesday’s matchup as one of the league’s top double-double tandems. Embiid had 58 double-doubles last season and Simmons finished with 42. As a result, they were the NBA’s only pair of teammates with at least 40. They became the Sixers’ first pair to accomplish that feat since Charles Barkley and Mike Gminski in 1988-89.