Joel Embiid remains steady MVP favorite after 70-point performance

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Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, right, shakes hands with Commissioner Adam Silver as he receives the NBA Most Valuable Player trophy ahead of Game 3 in an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Friday, May 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia 76ers superstar and reigning MVP Joel Embiid is not so quietly in the midst of enjoying the best season of his career. Throughout the year, the conversation around the two-time NBA leading scorer has consistently centered around the improvements he’s made off his winning the 2022-23 MVP award.

Averaging 36.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.9 assists on the season, Joel Embiid has been far and away the most dominant player in the league this season, and that’s been reflected in the betting odds for the 2023-24 MVP award.

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Joel Embiid has been the betting favorite for the award for some time, and after setting a franchise record for points scored in a game on Jan. 22, that has not changed. Currently, Embiid remains atop the odds ladder at +130 to win the award.

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid reacts after the 76ers won an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Friday, March 10, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After Embiid, two-time MVP and reigning NBA champion Nikola Jokic sits with +250 odds, followed by Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at +400. Despite Embiid’s dominance, he can’t quite be considered a heavy favorite, despite his personal success and that of the team. But why is that?

What can stop Embiid?

Simply put, it comes down to the recent change the NBA made regarding eligibility for NBA awards and All-NBA honors. Players are required to play a minimum of 65 games over an 82-game season to qualify for such awards.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) watches from the bench as the 76ers fall behind the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 7 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Currently, Joel Embiid is on pace for a 62.5-game pace. He had missed some time earlier in the season due to a sprained knee, so the hope is that barring another injury, Embiid will reach that 65-game mark and qualify for the many honors that he deserves.

Embiid must play in 33 more games to secure that magic number. If he does, it’s hard to envision a reality in which he does not win his second consecutive MVP award.

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