Last season, Joel Embiid was the runner-up in the voting for the NBA’s 2020-21 MVP award.
This season, the 76ers big man is once again in the race as a frontrunner alongside reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and about 50 games into the season, the latter holds the lead courtesy of multiple advanced stats.
Nikola Jokic has a better
than Joel Embiid this season.
Statistically, it’s not close. pic.twitter.com/kflbOiFJcU
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 20, 2023
However, to be named the league MVP for the first time in his career, Embiid is only focused on one thing – winning.
“I’m asked to be our best defensive player, offensive player and playmaker,” Embiid said postgame after the 76ers defeated the Lakers 105-87. “And I love it.”
“To be the MVP, you know my focus is on winning.”@JoelEmbiid tells @TurnerSportsEJ what he has to focus on in order to win the MVP trophy this season. pic.twitter.com/1MvguzxmQg
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 28, 2023
Against the Lakers, Embiid finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of action. This was his 16th consecutive game of scoring 25 or more, which is the second-longest streak in franchise history.
The performance was a quiet night given his recent form but his impact can be judged from his plus-minus as he finished with a +21 in an 18-point victory.
With the victory, the 76ers 13th in their last 16 games and the eighth against the Lakers in their last 10 meetings, Philadelphia improve to 29-19 and are now just two games behind the East’s top-seeded Miami Heat (31-17).
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They are doing so without their potential All-NBA player in Ben Simmons, who hasn’t featured in a single game this season. In comparison, the Nuggets, who are also missing key players of their core in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., are 26-21.
Jokic might be currently edging out Embiid in the MVP race but the 76ers big man could make the debate obsolete if he can lead the team to a significantly higher win total when the regular season ends.