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Joel Embiid Remains Favorite To Win Back To Back NBA MVP

Isaac Leeper

Joel Embiid drives to the paint in a game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Last year, Joel Embiid had a monster season with the Philadelphia 76ers that ended up falling short to the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs. During the 2022-2023 regular season, Embiid averaged 33.1 points per game (ppg), 10 rebounds and 4 assists. During the following season,  Joel Embiid’s star teammate, James Harden, left to join the LA Clippers. Rumors speculated that Embiid and the Sixers were headed in a downward spiral. Little did they know that they were only going to get better. During free agency, the Philadelphia 76ers signed Kelly Oubre Jr. to surround the big two of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Four months later, Philadelphia sits at 29-13, third in the Eastern Conference.  This success can largely be credited to Joel Embiid, as he has been on a tear all season.

Currently, Embiid is averaging 36 ppg, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists, showing tremendous improvement in his prime at age 29. These stats have earned him a place on top of the Most Valuable Player (MVP) rankings, right above his rival Nikola Jokic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Embiid is deserving of the MVP award for a multitude of reasons. First off, on Monday, January 15th,  Joel Embiid joined four-time MVP Wilt Chamberlain and six-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only player in NBA history with 16 straight 30-plus points and 10-plus rebound games. The big man has also accumulated two 50-plus point games this season, along with several more 40-plus point games. Furthermore, history was made when Joel Embiid dropped 70 points and 18 rebounds on the San Antonio Spurs on January 22nd. This mark broke Wilt Chamberlain's franchise record of 68 points set on Dec. 16, 1967. It is safe to say that Embiid is single-handedly warning the league that the 76ers are a force to be reckoned with.

The only thing keeping Joel Embiid from securing the MVP is his health. This year, the NBA implemented a rule that states that in order to qualify for an MVP award, players must play in 65 regular season games. This could pose an issue for Embiid as he has already missed 10 games, and we are still before the all-star break. The root of these problems are from his knee, as has been struggling with it his whole career. Embiid said in an interview after a game against the Houston Rockets, "It doesn't matter how many games I play; the goal is to be healthy the rest of the year.” Although an MVP trophy would be nice to add to his résumé, Embiid, and the Philadelphia 76ers have their eyes on the ultimate goal of finally winning a championship title for the city of Philadelphia.


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