Joel Embiid: Why the Big Man is the NBA MVP

After finishing second the past two seasons, 76ers center Joel Embiid finally won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2022-23 season.

As the league’s top individual honor, Embiid defeated Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo with a dominant season.

A First Time MVP

Embiid has been a runner-up for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in the past two seasons, losing out to Denver Nuggets center Jokic. This year, however, Embiid won over Jokic. Philadelphia fans can finally have something to cheer for this year.

While the MVP odds are no longer available on FanDuel Sportsbook, Embiid was the clear -1000 favorite to win the award last week. In contrast, Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo were both +1200. The only other player on the board was Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, at +24000.

The NBA awards ballots were due by 6 p.m. ET on Monday, and out of the 19 voters who’ve revealed their MVP pick, 14 have chosen Embiid, and three have gone for Antetokounmpo. Two have selected Jokic, according to an ongoing compilation of ballots. Although the race’s outcome remains to be seen, these early results suggest that Embiid is a solid pick for the award. ESPN’s Tim Bontemps conducted a final MVP straw poll in late March, showing that the gap between Embiid and Jokic was only two points.

Embiid’s 2023 Season Stats and Achievements

Embiid led the league in scoring with 33.1 points per game, joining a short list of players who have averaged more points in a season since the introduction of the 3-point line. He had multiple 50-point games and was effective from all three levels, shooting 35% from the 3-point line, 49% on mid-range shots, and 75% at the rim. Embiid was also a versatile player, contributing 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.0 steals per game, becoming the only player in the history of the NBA to hit all of those marks. You typically don’t see that from someone his size, making him a unicorn in the sport. So if that’s not impressive and MVP-worthy, I wonder what is!

He led the Sixers to 54 wins, the third-highest total in the league, and helped them rank in the top 10 in offense and defense. Embiid was also recognized for his clutch play, finishing fifth in Clutch Player of the Year voting and leading the league in plus-minus in clutch minutes.

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