MVP Debate Rages for Sixers’ Joel Embiid: Analyst Says ‘Best Player on Planet’ Robbed

Joel Embiid

Getty Sixers big man Joel Embiid notched his 23rd double-double in 40 games on February 4, 2022.

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is now a two-time MVP, according to multiple reports. He beat out Joel Embiid for the award for a second straight year, much to the chagrin of knowledgeable basketball fans everywhere.

Philadelphia 76ers fans are certainly biased in their defense of Embiid. But what about the legions of national analysts rushing to support the Phantom of the Process? For example, FS1’s Skip Bayless — a guy who picked the Heat to beat the Sixers — delivered a powerful message on why Embiid deserves more respect. He called the Sixers’ big man the “best player on the planet.”

“Right now Joel Embiid is the best player on the floor,” Bayless said on Undisputed. “They just announced predictably that Jokic won the MVP — everybody knew that was going to happen just on statistics alone — but, this is just me, that guy I’m seeing, that 7-foot monster, 7-foot-2 monster, whatever he is, Joel Embiid … he’s having such an impact on this game, I think he’s in position to remake his case at the best player on the planet.”

It’s insane to think that at least 37 media members picked Jokic over Embiid, according to an MVP spreadsheet making the rounds. There were quite a few “respected” writers who made the wrong choice, including Sam Amick (The Athletic), Doris Burke (ESPN), Kevin O’Connor (The Ringer), Jalen Rose (ABC), Chris Herring (Sports Illustrated), among others. Analytics trumped the eye test.

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James Harden Praises MVP, Twitter Reacts

James Harden has been pounding the MVP drum for Embiid since he arrived in Philly after the trade deadline. Following Embiid’s 24-point, 11-rebound performance in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Harden explained how much his presence meant to the Sixers. That series is now tied up at 2-2.

“He’s the MVP of the league,” Harden said after Game 4. “Like I tried to tell our guys, like we had the right mindset going into both games, it’s difficult without Jo to win if you don’t make shots, and we didn’t make shots the first two games. If we make shots, it’s probably a different ballgame. But we still had the confidence going into Game 3 knowing that we can beat these guys, and obviously getting Jo back was the X factor. But our confidence level remained high and we just kept that same swagger.”

Twitter agreed with Harden’s assessment. The reactions to Embiid getting robbed for MVP were swift and defiant. Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro vowed to launch an “investigation” on the matter, while Embiid’s trainer Drew Hanlen lobbied for “more basketball people in basketball.”

Meanwhile, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley sent congratulations to Jokic, but encouraged cautious debate about “my MVP.” Sixers Nation pointed out that Kobe Bryant only won one MVP award while Steve Nash earned two. Interesting. Maybe regular-season awards aren’t that important.

Embiid Addresses Sixers’ Confidence Heading into Game 5

The Sixers are playing with increased confidence with their MVP back in the lineup. They head to Miami for Game 5 on Tuesday night with a chance to take a 3-2 series lead. The Sixers are playing crisper basketball, but they still haven’t put together a complete four quarters.

“I mean, the way we played is the reason why we were able to tie the series, but I don’t think we have played our best basketball,” Embiid said after Game 4. “Tonight we had way too many turnovers, 16, and we missed a bunch of wide open shots.

“We had a couple possessions offensively that didn’t go our way and then defensively at times, especially at the end of that third quarter we weren’t together, so we’ve got a lot of adjustments and room to grow, so we have to learn from it, but we are far from playing our best basketball so that is the encouraging thing.”

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