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Should Joel Embiid Be Getting More MVP Love?

By Matthew Green, Sports Talk Philly Staff

While the NBA is a only a little over one-third of the way through its season, it is never too early to debate who will bring home the coveted Most Valuable Player award when the 2021-2022 regular season is over. 

At this point of the season, fans and media have begun to narrow down their MVP favorites to the top six or seven players that have a legitimate shot to take home the hardware. Many former MVPs and big names have once again thrown their names into the hat for this year's MVP award. 

While several players are having tremendous seasons this year in their own right, there is one glaring player that has inserted himself into the conversation that has not yet won the trophy: Joel Embiid.

Embiid has been floating around the MVP conversation for the last couple of seasons, but a variety of factors have played a role in keeping him from winning the award. Last season, he was a top three candidate to be named the league's most prestigious title. While he had career year in 2020-2021, his inability to stay healthy and on the court for a good portion of the season separated him from the eventual winner, Nikola Jokić.

This season, Embiid has come back with a vengeance and is putting up some of the best numbers in the league. He currently averages 26 points per game, leading all centers in that category. He is also averaging 10.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and a career high 4.1 assists.

While these numbers are some of the league's best, they are right around Embiid's career averages. In recent games, though, he has been averaging well above these numbers. Since returning from a rib injury in mid-December, Embiid has averaged 30.8 points and 11.2 rebounds over his last six games. 

The numbers may be great, but the one category that really emphasizes Embiid's value is the 76ers winning record. When Embiid was at his best last season, the Sixers finished as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

This season, the Sixers are currently sitting as the East's sixth seed with an 18-16 record. While it is not quite the winning success that Philadelphia saw last year, Embiid has missed eleven of this season's games. The 76ers went 3-8 in those games.

If you take away those eleven games from the Sixers' record, they would be 15-8 with a 0.652 winning percentage (third best in the East). It is undeniable that the Sixers are better with Embiid, but those statistics prove that the team can only go as far as he takes them. 

When he is on the court, Embiid puts up MVP-like numbers and leads his team to wins. So, what can separate him from the other MVP candidates that would make him the favorite to win the award?

The big X factor is his durability. Had Embiid played in twenty more games than he did last year, he likely would have won the award over Jokić. This season, he is doing much of the same and still has the opportunity to stay on the court during the most important months of the season.

If Embiid can stay healthy for most of the rest of the season, he can help the Sixers climb up the standings while stringing together more big games. Despite other players like Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokić doing much of the same, Embiid continuing his success without the roster talent that those players have could give him an edge at the end of the race.

As of right now, Fanduel Sportsbook has Embiid with the fifth highest odds to win the MVP at +3900. If Embiid can continue his monstrous play as of late and stay healthy for much of the rest of the season, betting on him now to win the MVP may very well make a lot of fans happy by the end of the season.

STP-01

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