CAMDEN, N.J. - Joel Embiid likes to set goals. They give him tangible milestones to push himself to reach particular feats.
Defensive Player of the Year. Fifty wins. Playoffs. Those are just some of the objectives he set this season.
The goals are only getting loftier.
"I feel like next year is definitely going to be a type of MVP season for me," Embiid said Thursday following his exit interview.
Embiid is on the right path, having been named a starter in his first All-Star selection. But he also knows he has a lot of work to do, beginning this summer, to get to that point of consideration.
"It starts with my body," he said.
The Sixers suggested Embiid take a minimum of two weeks off to recover from the wear and tear of this season, especially as he dealt with an eye injury along with shoulder and elbow discomfort in the playoffs. Staying off the court will be tough for him to do, though. He said he already misses playing basketball less than 24 hours after the Sixers were eliminated.
"I love being in the gym," Embiid said. "I don't feel like taking any time off, so we're going to see how the summer goes."
Last summer, Embiid's workouts were limited as he recovered from knee surgery. He came into training camp weighing more than he would have liked and missed the first three preseason games.
Embiid looks forward to training in an injury-free summer and preparing for the season without minutes or consecutive games restrictions. This way, he can get his speed and conditioning to the point where he will be ready to consistently withstand the grind of the schedule. Embiid also wants to improve his post moves, passing, especially out of double teams, and ball handling.
"I feel like at times I can be dominant and then I get tired and then I just take plays off," Embiid said. "You've got to be able to do it every time you're on the court. That's what takes you to the next level. It can be hard, too, when you have to score the ball and then defensively you want to be the best defensive player in the league. You spend so much energy doing both, but you've just got to do it."
Winning the Most Valuable Player award would not be an individual honor for Embiid. To him, being MVP represents a much larger team impact.
"I want to be a leader," Embiid said. "Being considered as an MVP, that just shows you that you're bringing your team to wherever they have to go and I want to be that type of guy."