Why Joel Embiid is the clear MVP

Jackson McCrae '23

Each year, the NBA recognizes the stellar play of an individual by awarding the Most Valuable Player Award. For the past two years, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo has taken home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. The year prior it was Houston’s James Harden, though he has since taken his beard to Brooklyn. However, it has been exactly 20 years since a 76er last won the award: Allen Iverson in 2001. With Joel Embiid putting up historic numbers and having the best season for a Sixers big man since Moses Malone, many are wondering whether he can continue his record-setting play and convince the voters he’s the MVP.

He can. It’s that simple. Joel Hans Embiid has proven to be unguardable, slaying the league’s top defenders on his way to ridiculous stat line after ridiculous stat line, slowly but surely bumping all his averages up, and bumping him to the forefront of the MVP race.

Embiid has taken a sixth seeded team that got swept in the first round and made them a legitimate contender and top seed in the Eastern conference. He has absolutely demolished the league, as he has scored 30+ points 15 of the 30 games he has played this year, including 40+ in five of those games. His best game came against the Bulls on February 19th when he dropped a career high 50 PTS, along with 17 REB, 5 AST, 4 BLK, 2 STL. He shot 65% from the field and 50% from three. Embiid also finished with a Game Score of 50.8, which is a stat used to objectively determine how productive a player was in a game. That Game Score of 50.8, is the 18th highest game score ever achieved, which (in a sense) means Joel Embiid played the 18th best game of basketball ever.

In total fairness, the Bulls lack a great rim protector, but Embiid also plays great against some of the league’s best defenders. On March 3rd, he matched up against the 2x Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, and flat out owned him. Embiid finished with 40 PTS, 19 REB, and an overtime win, and Gobert looked flat out lost.

Embiid is averaging 30.2 PPG, which is second best in the NBA. He is averaging 11.6 RPG, which is seventh best in the NBA. He is averaging 1.4 BPG, which is 14th best in the NBA. He has a player efficiency rating of 31.19, which is second best in the NBA. He is top in the league in both free throws attempted and made. Joel leads the league in 30+ point, 10+ rebound games, and 40+ point, 10+ rebound games.

While Embiid’s main competition for MVP, Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, James Harden, and Damian Lillard are boasting impressive seasons, they’re just not having a better year than Embiid. Embiid’s impact on both ends of the floor are historic, and the fact that Jokic can make some cool passes, LeBron is 36, Harden can drop an extremely inefficient 30 points, or that Lillard can hit some 30 footers should not take away from the fact that Joel has been the most valuable player this year.