Luka Dončić Is Great, but Joel Embiid Is the MVP

CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 06: Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (21) shoots the ball over Chicago Bulls Center Nikola Vucevic (9) during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls on February 6, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Joel Embiid should be the NBA’s Most Valuable Player this year. He’s currently leading the league in scoring with 29.9 points per game on 48.9% shooting from the field and 36.5% from deep. He has almost single-handedly carried the 76ers to a respectable level without any help until recently. On March 18th, he’ll be taking on another MVP candidate in Dallas’s Luka Dončić. He has been playing great this year and deserves recognition as a finalist for MVP this year, but if we look at his numbers compared to Joel Embiid, it’s clear Luka pales in comparison.

In terms of scoring, Luka is averaging 28.2 points per game, a great scoring output for sure, but not quite at the same level Joel has been playing at. His shooting percentages are lower as well, only shooting 45.5% from the field and 34.1% from deep. In all reality, Embiid is scoring more points at a more efficient rate, so, in terms of scoring, Embiid has the edge here.

Moving to assists, this is where Luka shines in comparison to Embiid. Luka is averaging 8.6 assists per game compared to Joel’s 4.4 per game. To be fair, Luka is also a point guard who traditionally will get more assists. Luka’s 8.6 assists rank 5th in the NBA, while Embiid ranks only 44th with his 4.4 per game. However, by position, Luka still ranks 5th among guards while Joel Embiid ranks 2nd for centers. While Luka’s playmaking may be better than Joel’s, the gap between the two isn’t nearly as deep as face value makes them appear, but Luka still has the edge here.

Finally, in the counting stats is rebounding. Luka is averaging 9.3 rebounds per game compared to Joel Embiid’s 11.4 per game. Luka is the leading guard for rebounds per game, showing just how good he is at getting rebounds, while Embiid is tied for 5th for his position. Similar to assists, the face value doesn’t tell the whole story. Both players are excellent rebounders, but the fact that Joel gets more than Luka gives Embiid the edge here.

Joel is a monster on the defensive side. Whether it’s a well-timed block, quick switches off of screens, or just, in general, being a shot-blocking threat down low, Joel Embiid is someone players don’t want to finish against. Luka, on the other hand, is far from a defensive monster. He’s a solid defender, who makes up for it on the offensive end with his versatile and dynamic play, but compared to Embiid, Luka shrinks in comparison. He allows a higher shooting percentage from nearly everywhere on the court. Embiid takes this one, and it’s not close.

Looking at most advanced stats, Embiid beats Luka as well. PER? Joel is third with a rating of 31.7. Luka is tied for 9th with a score of 24.97. True shooting percentage? Joel: 61.2%, Luka: 56.4%. Luka has been incredible this year; this isn’t to take away from the season he’s had this year. He just isn’t on the same level as Joel Embiid.