Joel Embiid has been nothing short of an All-Star this season. He is exceptional on both sides of the ball, and he has led his team to the three seed in the Eastern Conference. Embiid has been dominant for many years, but his MVP campaign is particularly strong this year for various reasons.
33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. Those are Embiid’s numbers for this season. He has shown that he can be present in all aspects of basketball; offense, defense, and leadership. Joel Embiid is a center who has now been named the leading scorer for 2 seasons in a row. He has also proven himself to be a great shooter from the field. Embiid is averaging 49% from mid-range this season, which is perfect for a center who constantly has to run off the pick-and-roll. This level of efficiency has put Embiid above other NBA greats for MVP, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is well known for his lackluster shooting.
Defense is also a strong aspect of Joel Embiid’s MVP campaign this year. His team, the Sixers, isn’t necessarily amazing defensively, but his impact on that end of the court is noticeable. When Joel Embiid is on the court, his team improves from the 47th percentile to the 54th in pick-and-roll defense. Embiid is also recognized as a good rim protector too, only allowing 64% of shots at the rim, as opposed to Nikola Jokic’s 68%. Embiid is also a much better shot blocker than Jokic, so he has put himself higher in that regard as well.
Although the stats show that Joel Embiid is a very good choice for MVP, there is one defining factor that puts him above the rest of his competition: the fact that fans want him to win. Since Joel Embiid has been 2nd in MVP voting for the past 3 seasons, voter fatigue will be biased in his favor. In addition, Jokic has already won 2 MVPs in a row. While there is no doubt that he is one of the most valuable players in the league, he definitely isn’t the most popular. Winning MVP 3 times in a row shows an unmatched level of dominance in the league, and many voters wouldn’t feel comfortable with giving that honor to a non-American player. Giving the award to Embiid would also help create an exciting narrative going into the playoffs. A Sixers team being completely led by MVP Joel Embiid is much more compelling than a Jokic-led Nuggets team. This year’s voting will be very close, but Joel Embiid will prove to fans nationwide that the process is valid.