ESPN’s Final MVP Straw Poll projects another snub for Joel Embiid
The 2022 regular season is coming to a close, meaning that awards season is right around the corner. Throughout the entire year, the MVP conversation between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic has been constantly discussed on television and all corners of the internet. Now, with just two weeks until ballots must be cast, a bit of insight on where we currently stand in voting was released by ESPN.
The NBA MVP Straw Poll
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps has made a name for himself by tracking MVP voting closely throughout the season and annually posts a final poll towards the end of March to highlight where the race is likely to finish.
The straw poll of media members from 28 different markets is designed to perfectly mirror the voting process of the real ballots. This final “NBA MVP Straw Poll” has been going since 2017 and has correctly predicted the MVP winner every season outside of its first year.
Straw Poll Voting
So, what does this season’s final poll show? A stark shift to a repeat MVP win for Jokic, with Joel Embiid firmly finishing in second. The Joker finished with 62 first-place votes and a total of 860 points. Joel finished with just 29 first-place votes and 719 total points. A nearly 150-point difference between the two top candidates.
Keep in mind, the last time Bontemps took this poll just after the All-Star break Joel Embiid had held the lead for MVP. Since then the stats have only favored Embiid more. Joel is averaging 31 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 blocks a game.
Jokic is averaging four fewer points, only one more rebound, and less blocks in that time. All while Embiid continues to lead the league in 30-point, 10-rebound games with Giannis.
Where is the massive shift in play here? Makes zero sense.
The Supporting Cast Argument
Everyone’s going to sit here and say “Well Jokic has done this without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr!” which is a valid argument if Embiid didn’t play half the season without a 3x All-Star.
If NBA Twitter is going to run around trying to tell me how good Ben Simmons is now that he got traded, keep that same energy when discussing the hole he left Embiid to fix when he sat until the trade deadline.
The Standings Argument
Are we just going to sit here and factor out where both the 76ers and Nuggets are in the standings? As long as I’ve been alive the “Most Valuable Player” has propelled their respective team to a top finish in their respective conference.
The Denver Nuggets are currently the sixth seed in the West with a worse record (45-31) than the Embiid-led 76ers. Philly is currently just a game back from the top seed in the East with a better overall record (46-28).
Did a mention that both teams have had similar records in the month of March (76ers 9-5, Nuggets 9-6) yet are ranked drastically different in strength of schedule? ESPN stats gave Jokic and Denver the easiest schedule post-All-Star break, with Embiid and Philly getting the seventh hardest. Yet they’ve both played to the same record.
Head-to-Head Argument (Stupid)
Oh! Jokic beat the 76ers in Philly he’s the clear MVP winner! I can hear all the basketball casuals ringing out already. In case anyone didn’t realize, Jokic actually spent that game getting dominated by Embiid only for the Sixers bench to blow the game. Jokic shot 30-percent from the field and turned the ball over four times when matched up against Embiid that game. A game where Joel ended with 34 points on 55-percent shooting.
They Hate The Process
This is all just the NBA hating Joel Embiid and the process. It doesn’t make much sense outside of that.
You’ve heard from some of the league’s best give their MVP pick to Embiid (Kevin Durant, Ja Morant), seen him dominate the reigning MVP on the court, and has led his team to a potential repeat as the top seed in his conference despite the same lack of help for most of the season.
The answer is clear, and the Association is going to repeat as absolute losers if these projections carry through.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher.