76ers Joel Embiid steady rise up the KIA NBA MVP Ladder continues, but a familiar foe stands in his way
Don’t look now, but Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers have been quietly putting together one of the most dominant runs in the NBA over the past few weeks.
Despite of a rocky start to the 2022-23 season that had Philadelphia beginning the year 1-4, and then 12-12 while Harden, Embiid, and Maxey all missed significant time, the tides are certainly turning. The Sixers have won 18 out of their last 22 games to improve to 30-16 on the season and are now in sole possession of the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, 4.5 games behind the Boston Celtics in first place.
They are now 9-2 in the month of January, and the Embiid-Harden pick-and-roll is basically unstoppable. While the entire city of Philadelphia was watching the Eagles beat the crap out of the New York Giants on Saturday night, the Sixers, led by Tyrese Maxey, rallied from being down 21 points against the Sacramento Kings.
To be clear: Embiid and Harden didn’t even suit up against the Kings.
Regardless of last game, none of the Sixers success would be possible without the incredible play of Joel Embiid. He’s currently in first place for the scoring title, tied with Luka Doncic at 33.6 points per game and the KIA MVP Ladder is finally recognizing what Embiid is doing this season, as he has climbed back into the Top 3 contenders to bring home the highly-debated end of season award.
Joel Embiid Domination
We all know that Joel Embiid can win the scoring title but will he ever win an MVP Award?
Trust me, I know the debate is oversaturated and if Embiid couldn’t win it last year, his chances of doing so this year seem very unlikely. However, I don’t think anyone thought that Embiid would actually be better than he was in 2021-2022, which by all accounts, he most certainly is this year.
In the most recent KIA MVP Ladder released by NBA.com Joel Embiid has jumped into the top three on the strength of his recent play. Above him are Jayson Tatum, and sitting on the top rung is none other than reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.
KIA MVP Ladder:
- Nikola Jokic: 25.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 9.9 apg
- Jayson Tatum: 31.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.3 apg
- Joel Embiid: 33.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.2 apg
“The steady rise continues. Embiid missed three straight games from Jan. 4-8, but returned with a vengeance, averaging 34.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 1.8 bpg in the six games since.” via NBA.com
Under normal circumstances voter fatigue would be an issue when it comes to an MVP three-peat. The slobbering love affair between NBA writers and Nikola Jokic’s advanced stats precludes any normal circumstances from occurring. Even still, he is nearly averaging a triple double for the top team in the Western Conference which makes him a formidable contender for the award.
There’s no reason to assume that Embiid won’t continue to improve on his performance as the season wears on. He has found in James Harden, an elite facilitator that seems to be bringing out the best in him offensively. As a duo they are an offensive wrecking ball producing an offensive rating of 122.86.
As the Sixers approach the All-Star break, Joel Embiid will have to be undeniable in order to have anything approaching a fair shot at dethroning Jokic as MVP. That means a scoring title. That means muscling into the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Even if he does that and more, he might still get left out in the cold by NBA writers.
After all, we all know They Hate The Process.
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Mandatory Credit: Getty Images