With the regular season winding down, many are keeping their eyes peeled on who wins the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Among the candidates are Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid, and reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Embiid talked about his candidacy of the previous years compared to Jokic, specifically about what went against him. Though he believes Jokic won fair and square, he brought up some of the issues in his candidacy before winning again.
“The criteria does change. If we want to talk about the last three years since I’ve been in the running for it, the first year it was that I didn’t play enough games. Last year, I came back, I played enough games, I led the league in scoring, and obviously, Nikola deserved it and he won it. But then again, he won as a sixth seed in the West,” Embiid said.
Over the last two seasons, Embiid has finished second in MVP voting behind Jokic. However, he is currently the betting favorite to win the award, with the odds of him winning at -110, though Jokic isn’t too far behind at +120.
Joel Embiid to Miss Sixers Game Vs. Nuggets
The Sixers were scheduled to face off against the Nuggets on March 27, with the highly-anticipated matchup between Embiid and Jokic. However, hours before the game started, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Embiid would not play in their matchup.
“Embiid has been laboring with a sore right calf, and the Sixers decided to take a precautionary approach given the density of the team’s recent schedule, sources said.
“Embiid did try to give it a go at the shootaround Monday morning, but the Sixers decided to give him some rest. Monday’s game in Denver is the Sixers’ third in four nights. Embiid played in both legs of the Sixers’ back-to-back against the Warriors and Suns on Friday and Saturday, respectively.”
As it turns out, Embiid has not played against the Nuggets in Denver since the 2019-20 season, as reported by Mike Singer of The Denver Post.
The good news for the Sixers is that James Harden is expected to come back after sitting out the last three games due to a sore Achilles.
Joel Embiid Accused of ‘Ducking Smoke’
Former NBA Player and ESPN Analyst Kendrick Perkins went off on Embiid following the report that he would miss the Sixers’ game against the Nuggets.
“Joel Embiid is ducking that smoke today, and y’all know how I feel about Joel Embiid,” Perkins said. “He has been on record, we know how much it means to him to win this award. Here it is, you gave Jokic a spanking when they was down there in Philly. You have to give him the opportunity to get his league back. You cannot sit out this game.”
Perkins added that it’s times like these that impact who he votes for regarding awards.
“When it comes down to these moments and these matchups, I have a vote, and when…I’m looking at the MVP, and who I’m going to pencil in, I’m going to remember this moment. It’s only fair. Jokic showed up to work in Philly. You have to give him his league back.”