For the first time all season, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is the betting favorite to take home MVP honors. Despite having the NBA‘s toughest post-All-Star Break schedule, Embiid has powered the Sixers to a 10-4 record since the midseason festivities.
“Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo is who I believe the MVP race has come down to,” Green said on his podcast The Draymond Green Show. “[Nikola Jokić], incredible year, as of late he’s slipped and those guys have continued to ascend. As of late the Denver Nuggets have slipped and those two teams have ascended. Both players are absolutely amazing. Giannis the other day had a perfect triple-double which was great.”
While Green pegged the race as between Antetokounmpo and Embiid, he ultimately picked the latter as the likely winner.
“Right now in the MVP race, I think it’s Joel,” Green said. “I think it’s Joel’s award to lose. I think the way he loses that award is his team starts losing. Joel’s going to put up Joel numbers, Joel going to do what Joel has been doing. It’s Joel’s award to lose.”
Green’s statements before the Sixers’ final game against the Warriors on Friday.
Green’s sentiments were echoed by another player out West recently: Mike Conley.
Mike Conley Sounds Off on Joel Embiid’s MVP Chances
Even though players like Conley and Green only get to see Embiid twice a season, the Sixers star’s dominance has clearly left a lasting impression.
“I love (Nikola) Jokic, but the two times I played against Joel this year, I think he got 60 the first time we played him in Philly,” Conley said on the Ryen Russillo Podcast recently. “Then he did similar to us in Minnesota. I think he didn’t even have to play in the fourth quarter but had like 40.”
For Conley, Embiid’s strong play is something the 15-year vet hasn’t seen all season.
“I haven’t seen anybody be as dominant as him with my own two eyes this season. He’s been doing it (for) a while. I think Joel has a real chance to be there,” Conley said.
But not everyone is agreed about Embiid’s chances to beat out Jokic for his first MVP.
Former Coach Pours Cold Water on Joel Embiid MVP Hype
While Green and Conley have high expectations for Embiid in the MVP race, the same can’t be said of former coach George Karl.
“(Embiid) takes too many possessions off,” Karl said recently. “He has lazy body language. He gets angry at things that we don’t understand why. I just don’t know if he’s that NBA pro that we all loved because he’s a competitive SOB.”
Karl, who was named NBA Coach of the Year during the 2012-13 season, is one of just nine coaches to have 1,000 wins over his career. Although it should come as no surprise that the former Nuggets coach picked a Nuggets great to win his third-straight MVP award.
“From what I know in Philadelphia, everybody says he’s playing great. In games I’ve seen, he played really, really well. He’s played great in the 4th quarters, came up with a lot of comeback wins. I can only like one big guy, and I take Jokic over Embiid.”