The 2023 NBA MVP race continues to be unpredictable as multiple players continue to put up incredible numbers throughout the season. However, at the top of the race are two big men, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic.
The two centers have become unsurmountable juggernauts in their respective conferences. Many agree that this season’s MVP plaudits will most likely end up with either one of these incredible stars.
With the MVP race looking as tight as it’s been in recent memory, hoops fans wonder if Embiid has what it takes to stop the Joker from getting his third-straight MVP award. Philly’s passionate fanbase believes he should get the nod, but we’ll look at the stats to determine whether that’s the case.
This OKBET Sports piece will discuss what many think of the current MVP race, how Embiid became the process, and whether he has what it takes to lead the Sixers to their first basketball title in 40 years.
Embiid Finally Makes the Jump Over Jokic
Sports fans who follow what’s happening in the NBA this season understand that Jokic is playing incredible basketball now. A quick look at his stats immediately clarifies why he’s been the frontrunner for the MVP race this entire time.
The Joker is putting up incredible numbers this season at 24.8 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 9.9 APG. Opponents also cannot stop his shot, as evidenced by his 64% shooting and 39% FG from three.
Anyone who watched the Nuggets play this season understands how valuable Jokic is to the team with his orchestration of the Denver offense. There are already half-hour-long YouTube highlights from the Serbian big man for this season alone.
However, recent developments turned Embiid into the newest MVP award favorite. While Jokic remains dominant on the floor, the Nuggets have lost five of their last six games. The Joker already sounded the alarm and asked for better defensive efforts from his teammates.
Meanwhile, Embiid is having a career season of his own. The Process’ crown jewel is averaging 33.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists a night on 55/36/86% shooting splits. His stellar play is critical to the Sixers’ stellar win streak during the final weeks of the 2022/23 season.
He’s blossomed into an unstoppable force that few teams can properly gameplan against in a busy 82-game schedule.
Why Is Embiid the Sudden Favorite?
The 29-year-old center is the rock that is the foundation for the Sixers’ success. His two-way dominance and incredible athleticism make him the most dangerous player whenever he steps onto the hardwood.
His performance throughout the win streak is also helping his case. From March 2 until March 18, The Process netted an incredible 36.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 2.3 BPG on 63% shooting, 46% from deep, and 83% from the charity stripe.
Fans who haven’t watched enough Sixers games may not fully understand why the Twitter-loving big man is suddenly the leading horse in this race.
However, the highlights above showcased how well Embiid has blossomed as a playmaker. His vision has improved significantly, and he’s since become a willing passer to open teammates. He’s not at Jokic’s level, but defenses have become warier whenever he handles the ball.
His improved passing was probably caused by playing with James Harden. Embiid calls him the league’s best floor general. Being around such a fantastic passer probably taught him to see passing lanes better.
However, the quality that got him ahead of Jokic is his defensive qualities. His agility allows him to stay in front of faster players, and his blocking prowess makes him one of the league’s most feared rim protectors. His energy on the defensive end also sets an example for the rest of the team to follow.
Is Giannis Being Ignored for Embiid?
Embiid is putting up incredible numbers this season, but he’s not the only person providing MVP numbers daily. Multiple superstars are also worthy of the MVP nod with how they’ve played this year.
At the top of this list of underrated MVP candidates is Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time MVP is showing off with his per-game averages of 31.4 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists while shooting 54% on the floor.
While these numbers are worthy of the MVP nod, he’s been eliminated from many MVP conversations. Like many NBA fans, the Milwaukee Bucks star is confused with how these rankings were determined.
He expressed his frustrations with the media. According to Sports Illustrated’s Zach Koons, the Greek Freak inadvertently cursed to emphasize how confusing the metrics are.
“Like, I believe—and I know—that people are dominating,” Antetokounmpo said. “So what is the MVP? Is it the guy who scores the most points? The guy who’s the most efficient? Is it the guy who is the most dominant? Is it the guy who is the most valuable?”
We’ll unlikely get any clear answer from the press on how they vote for the prestigious award. However, Antetokounmpo’s point is undeniable.
Will Embiid Finally Get the MVP This Season?
This season isn’t the first time Embiid was nominated for an MVP. However, this is the closest he’s been to taking home the award. If the Sixers consistently thrive under his leadership, this season’s top individual honor is as good as his.
However, everyone can tell that this isn’t Embiid’s biggest priority. The goal for the big man is still the Larry O’Brien trophy. He will be okay with not winning the MVP if it means his team will make it all the way in this season’s playoffs.