Joel Embiid’s MVP Hype Begins to Grow Amid Sixers Turnaround

Joel Embiid, Sixers

Getty Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives against Christian Koloko #35 of the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their basketball game at the Scotiabank Arena on October 26, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

After a frustrating start to the season, the Philadelphia 76ers have begun to turn things around. They have won three of their last four games and brought their record back to .500 on the season. The biggest reason for this is due to the improved play of Joel Embiid. The Sixers superstar looks to have shaken off his slow start and has returned to his MVP form. He has received some national recognition for his historic string of play and has climbed into the conversation for best player in the league by landing 6th in the recent updated MVP ladder.

Embiid’s String of Strong Play

Over the past four games, Embiid is averaging 40.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.8 blocks per game. He scored 101 combined points last weekend in matchups with the Hawks and Jazz. The most notable performance was the victory over Utah in which Embiid put forth one of the greatest individual performances of all time. During the 105-98 victory, Embiid tallied 59 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and seven blocks- becoming the only player in NBA history to record this statline. He dominated on both sides of the ball scoring 26 of the Sixers’ 27 fourth-quarter points.

Beyond just the raw numbers, it has been Embiid’s processing of the game has especially impressed. The Sixers’ offense has been starved of playmaking with James Harden out of the lineup. Embiid has taken the responsibility for this personally by becoming more active in running the offense. During the Jazz game, it especially looked as if the game slowed down for Embiid. While he still has some work to do in cutting down his turnovers, as he is averaging a career-high 4.2 per game so far this year, the playmaking growth is still a net positive.

The impact on the defensive end has also been vital to the Sixers’ success. Behind his strong effort, the Sixers have climbed to 4th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. The two-way impact of the superstar is part of what separates him when comparing him to stars around the NBA.

The Elusive MVP Race

Embiid has been unable to secure the elusive MVP award thus far. The Sixers superstar has finished second in voting the past two seasons falling to the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic both years. Embiid entered the season as the second favorite to win the award, trailing only Luka Doncic, but slipped out of the conversation during the slow start. His stretch of impressive play has brought him back into the mix with the Cameroonian currently holding the fourth-shortest MVP odds (trailing Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, and Doncic).

Coming into the season Embiid did an excellent job of downplaying the importance of these individual awards. As he stated when speaking with Nabil Karim of NBATV, “The last two years I learned that it’s unfortunate for me because when it comes to legacy, I want people to remember me as the best or one of the best players ever, and it’s unfortunate that nowadays you gotta win all these awards and it’s out of my hands. I don’t really care anymore. The first year I really care, last year, not as much. It would be nice [to win the MVP]; not a lot of people have that opportunity to win that or to be in that position. So, to be falling short, being second two years in a row, it sucks but it’s whatever. I believe in myself and the ultimate goal is to win a championship.”

Embiid has also acknowledged that these types of individual awards are dependent on the team’s success. Putting the priority on leading the Sixers to wins with his strong play will write his MVP resume and he appears focused on this. He has done an excellent job of this in recent games. Philadelphia will need him to continue to be his dominant self, especially in Harden’s absence as they continue their climb up the Eastern Conference.

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