76ers Joel Embiid deserves more MVP credit for handling Ben Simmons drama
A little under two weeks from now the NBA award voters will all cast their ballots for the Most Valuable Player of the 2021-22 season. With how crazy of a season it has been for the 76ers, not enough people are talking about Joel Embiid holding the team together through one of the dumbest player holdouts in the modern NBA history.
Today on First Things First Chris Broussard brought up the unique argument to support Joel Embiid as the MVP from a narrative standpoint. Joel Embiid not only had to deal with losing his second best player who plays at an All-Star level, but in the most toxic scenario possible. This wasn’t a freak injury where Simmons was on the sidelines with the team and the hope of a return loomed, this was much worse.
Simmons not only selfishly sat out and took one of the 76ers core players out of their scheme, but ripped the locker room and mentality of the team. Constantly having to field questions about Ben, learning to play without him, and trying desperately to bring him back in a civil manner is exhausting. These are the type of rifts that have broken teams before. James Harden and Chris Paul’s feuding that ended the Rockets duo, the Warriors dynasty being broken up by internal feuding as well.
Instead of collapsing under that weight, Joel Embiid took to the locker room as a true leader alongside his superstar play and pushed the team to heights nobody thought possible for the 76ers without Simmons. This was a locker room filled with young guys that he not only kept in line, but helped heighten the play of. The 76ers have been in the top five in the East standings all season long, and had big wins against “contenders” without Ben playing or Harden even in Philly yet. Joel Embiid scored 34 against the nearly full strength Nets, and everyone loves to forget right before the All-Star break when he had 42 in Milwaukee.
The MVP award should always factor in on court play the most, and there a conversation can be made for Joel Embiid and Jokic. Embiid leads in overall PPG and 30 point performances while Jokic is top twelve in PPG, RPG, and APG. Embiid has carried the 76ers to a better overall record (46-29) than Jokic and the Nuggets (46-31). The 76ers are the third seed in the East while the Nuggets are the fifth in the West.
Embiid by the time the season ends, will have gotten nearly 20 games with a second All-Star, and yet the Sixers could finish with a better overall seed and record than the Nuggets. Jokic has missed some of his co-stars, but they don’t equate to the level of Ben on the court and the effect his type of absence had off the court.
When it comes to choosing most valuable player there are a ton of things that have to factor in. A blend of statistics, winning games, and overall team standings are always important. One that usually becomes the outcast is narrative, and while it shouldn’t be weighed as heavily as some others, it does play a factor for some voters. In the case of narrative, the MVP is no doubt Joel Embiid for not only lifting himself to a higher and different style of superstar basketball, but keeping the team together at the top of the East.
Mandatory Credit: Stacy Revere.