Joel Embiid Deserves More Attention in the MVP Race

NBA: MAY 05 Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 3 – Celtics at 76ers
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 05: Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (21) looks on during warmups before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 05, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Over the past 10 games, Joel Embiid has been on fire. With Ben Simmons still refusing to play and Tobias Harris being the least consistent player on the team, Joel Embiid has stepped his play up to another level. Over his last 10, Embiid has averaged 31.4 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, and 4.5 assists per game. His shooting splits over that time are elite, shooting 53.6% from the field, 38.7% from deep, and 81.7% from the free-throw line while leading the Sixers to an 8-2 record over those same 10 games, dragging the Sixers into the 6th seed.

On the season, Embiid is averaging 27.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game while maintaining the highest usage percentage in the entire league at 35.4%. His shooting has been elite, with splits of 48.4/38.0/81.4. Over his past month of games, Embiid has been an MVP candidate yet has rarely been seen as a front runner.

Despite scoring 30+ points in 8 consecutive games, the first Sixers to do so since Allen Iverson. Despite scoring 30+ points in 10 consecutive away games, the first to do so since Michael Jordan did it in 1996. Despite winning Player of the Month for December and despite playing without another All-Star caliber player, Joel Embiid still has not been seen as a favorite for the MVP this year. The Vegas Insider has him listed only as 6th in their MVP odds.

With Joel Embiid’s play this year, and the way he has turned it up over the course of the last month, it would be foolish to see Embiid as anything less than a front runner in the MVP race. Embiid has been playing on a team built around a point guard who won’t shoot and a mid-range loving power forward who is best as a third option. With the struggles throughout the Sixers roster, it is clear that Embiid deserves more credit for dragging the Sixers to only being 2.5 games back from the first seeded Chicago Bulls.

With Embiid, he’s alone on his team in terms of All-Star talent. Kevin Durant, who many view as the front runner, has James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Steph Curry, who is going through a slump (shooting 38.5% from the field, 34.2% from deep over his last 10), has Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins. Giannis Antetokounmpo has All Stars like Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

Embiid is a solo superstar playing the best basketball of his life, dragging a team who follows him blindly into the playoffs. With statement wins over the Miami Heat, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Golden State Warriors, Embiid has shown that these Sixers have some fight in them.

Under his leadership, the Sixers have maintained their status as a good basketball team. With this, Embiid deserves to win MVP, or at least to be in the actual conversation along with names like Durant, Curry, and Antetokounmpo. He was a finalist last year for a reason.

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