Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid appeared to sound off on the state of the MVP race — by clicking the “like” button on a tweet.
Embiid has been mostly quiet about his status in the MVP race against frontrunner Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, deflecting questions about personal accomplishments and emphasizing the importance of the Sixers finishing the season strong. But Embiid may have given away some of his thoughts on Jokic on social media, liking a tweet that offered some criticism of the two-time defending MVP’s all-around game.
Joel Embiid “Likes” Criticism about Jokic’s Defense
Over the weekend, Embiid found his way to a tweet from NBA reporter and podcaster Jackson Lloyd that contained a piece of an article from ESPN’s Zach Lowe critical of Jokic’s efforts on defense. While Jokic has consistently held the top spot on NBA.com’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder, the unofficial ranking in the MVP race, he has also been criticized for his deficiencies on the defensive end.
Lowe said this is a valid criticism, then launched into a comparison of Jokic and Embiid that defended the Nuggets center.
“It is not some crime to be skeptical about the Denver Nuggets defense holding up in the playoffs,” wrote Lowe. “Nikola Jokic is not a rim protector. (It is a crime — a basketball crime, anyway — to pretend as if Jokic has had less postseason success than Joel Embiid. Both have been centerpieces on undermanned teams which were dispatched in the first round — Jokic last season against the eventual champions; Embiid in the bubble against the Boston Celtics with Ben Simmons out. Jokic has reached one conference final; Embiid has never been that far. Jokic’s individual postseason numbers are better. None of this should matter in the MVP debate, but there appears to be a misconception in some corners that Jokic’s lack of postseason success should be held against him relative to Embiid.).”
While Jokic is on pace to average a triple-double this season — averaging 24.7 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists through 60 games — Embiid has had a monster season of his own. The Sixers center is averaging 24.7 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists, while slightly edging out Jokic in defensive rating this season.
Joel Embiid Focused on 76ers Season, Not MVP Race
Embiid’s “like” attracted some attention on social media, especially given his relative quiet on the state of the MVP race. Though the Sixers big man admitted earlier this year that he felt disrespected when he was not named a starter in the All-Star game, he has mostly avoided sharing his thoughts on whether he believes he should be MVP this season.
“Focus on the right things, win games, dominate, which I’ve been doing,” Embiid told reporters earlier this month, via SI.com’s All 76ers. “Whatever happens, happens.”
Embiid has plenty of people speaking up on his behalf, however. Former NBA champion turned analyst Kendrick Perkins has been beating the drum for Embiid, tweeting after a 39-point performance in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves that it was a “d*** shame” some were still ignoring the torrid pace he’s been on this season.