Philadelphia 76ers’ big man Joel Embiid deserves to remain in the heart of the MVP conversation. Embiid is putting up career numbers but has missed 18 games, which will likely hurt him in the voting. However, despite missing time, he should be a top candidate for the award, and if he remains healthy, Embiid can still win the award. Let’s break down why.
Joel Embiid: Looking at the MVP Race
This year, there is no obvious candidate to win MVP. Instead, there are several players who all have a strong case that they should win the award. Most notably, Nikola Jokic has been on another level, posting 26.0 ppg, 10.9 rpg, and 8.8 apg for Denver. Those numbers are unheard of for a big man.
Damian Lillard, James Harden, and even Steph Curry can all make their case as well. However, of those guys that were mentioned, none has been able to stand out among the pack. Therefore, despite missing so much time, Joel Embiid still has a path to winning MVP, and here is how he can do it.
Joel Embiid: Individual Success:
Joel Embiid has been putting up crazy numbers, and as ridiculous as this may sound, he likely has to put up even better numbers to win the award. Because Embiid missed so much time, he has to be so much better than the rest of the pack to win MVP. Currently averaging 29.8 ppg and 11.0 rpg on 51.6% from the field, 38.9% from three, and 85.3% from the free-throw line, Embiid likely has to average over 30.0 ppg to win the award. This would likely put him second in scoring, only behind Bradley Beal, who does not have a path to winning the award.
Defensively, Embiid has been elite all year as well. He’s averaging 1.0 spg and 1.5 bpg while posting a 1.4 DBPM that goes along with a 6.8 OBPM. While blocks and steals are not the best ways to tell how good a player’s defense is, numbers matter, and this is what the voters are looking for. Therefore, Embiid has to play like the best player in the league to win the award, with little to no margin for error.
Joel Embiid: Staying Healthy:
This is arguably the biggest one. Embiid has already missed 18 games, and in a 72 game season, he can’t afford to miss many more. If he sits out one or two games the rest of the way, he may be fine, but if Embiid suffers another injury and misses multiple games, he has no path to winning MVP.
To become an MVP and miss an extended period of time, that player has to be significantly better than the rest of the pack. Clearly, Embiid has to be on that elite level while playing almost every game the rest of the way.
Joel Embiid: Team Success:
When it gets down to the voting and if it’s between Embiid and Jokic, then team success could play a deciding factor. The 76ers have exceeded expectations all season as they currently stand atop the East with a 38-17 record. The Nuggets haven’t been much worse, with a record of 35-20. However, with Denver in the loaded West, they are currently the fourth seed, and with Jamal Murray out for the year, it may be hard for them to climb any higher.
Therefore, Philadelphia may have to clinch the top seed for Embiid to win MVP. Brooklyn and Milwaukee have been looming all year, but Philly has had the top seed in the East for most of the season. With the MVP race so close, Embiid will be greatly benefitted if Philly can be the number one seed. That would show just how much impact Embiid has in that the team is able to remain atop the East, despite stacked teams in Brooklyn and Milwaukee.
In conclusion, Joel Embiid remains firmly in the MVP race. However, he has to play nearly perfectly and stay healthy, and the 76ers have to play well for him to come out on top. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.
Follow me on Twitter @PodolskyDanny for more sports news and discussions. Also, make sure to follow @OT_Heroics for all of your sporting needs. Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!