Drew Hanlen on Embiid's 45 PPG vs Jokic Since 2023 We Laugh About 'Ducking' Narrative

Embiid's Trainer Defends Player Amidst Criticism Over Matchups.

by Nouman Rasool
Drew Hanlen on Embiid's 45 PPG vs Jokic Since 2023 We Laugh About 'Ducking' Narrative
© Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Joel Embiid's pursuit of a regular-season MVP award appeared inevitable. As the NBA's scoring leader, he seemed on track to become the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to average more points than minutes played. Even after the departure of James Harden, Embiid's dominance ensured the Philadelphia 76ers maintained their competitive edge.

His personal trainer, Drew Hanlen, noted that Embiid was "playing the best basketball of his life," as reported by Sportskeeda. However, a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee sidelined Embiid for two months, severely impacting his MVP prospects and diminishing the Sixers' championship aspirations, relegating them to a Play-In team.

Embiid himself acknowledged the mental toll the injury took on him. Despite these setbacks, the Sixers, now the seventh seed, carried an eight-game winning streak into their Play-In game against the eighth-seeded Miami Heat.

In an exclusive interview, Hanlen detailed Embiid's resilience and the mental shift they adopted in the face of recurring injuries. "We focused on the idea that when he's healthy, he's the best player in the world," Hanlen explained, expressing hope for a healthy postseason run that could finally showcase Embiid's full capabilities.

Embiid's Dominance Against Jokic

Addressing criticisms that Embiid has avoided matchups with Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, Hanlen dismissed them with a laugh. He cited Embiid's impressive performances in their recent encounters, including a game where Embiid tallied 47 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists.

"He loves playing against the best, and whenever he's healthy, he's out there," Hanlen stated, debunking any notion of 'ducking' competitors. Hanlen also highlighted Embiid's remarkable scoring feats, including a 70-point game against Victor Wembanyama, a likely future Defensive Player of the Year.

Such achievements, Hanlen suggested, demonstrate Embiid's ability not just to score but to play intelligently and unselfishly, always making the right plays. With James Harden's exit and Tyrese Maxey's emergence as a key player, the Sixers have adapted their play style.

The team now emphasizes a more dynamic offense, playing through Embiid and allowing him to showcase his playmaking skills. Hanlen praised the synergy between Embiid and Maxey, fostered by joint workouts and strategic discussions aimed at enhancing their on-court collaboration.

As the NBA playoffs loom, Embiid remains a focal point not just for the Sixers but for basketball fans eager to see if this season can culminate in the deep playoff run he has long desired. Through all the challenges, Embiid's dedication to his craft, his team, and his recovery continues to define his career, making every game he plays a testament to his resilience and skill.