As we wind down to the end of the NBA regular season, the MVP race seems to be more open than years past at this stage. Players such as Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Demar Derozan continue to put together spectacular performances as they make their case for the Most Valuable Player award.
Despite the contested race, there continues to be one name that stands out above the rest: Joel Embiid. He has been able to stay off the injury list, and dominates whoever is guarding him on a routine basis. This article will go into why Embiid continues to be the best bet available for MVP.
Here are the current odds for NBA Most Valuable Player:
Joel Embiid (-120)
Nikola Jokic (+200)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (+750)
Ja Morant (+1200)
Demar Derozan (+1800)
Luka Doncic (+2500)
Nikola Jokic’s Case
Nikola Jokic’s MVP case relies heavily on his advanced stats and the Nuggets’ continued success without two of their best players. He currently has the NBA single-season record of PER and is ahead of Joel Embiid and plenty of advanced stats, including RAPTOR and EFG%.
One of the signature performances came just last week where he dropped a 46 point triple double in an overtime win against the New Orleans pelicans. At +200 Jokic has the second highest odds of any player to win the Most Valuable Player award, and while you could Jokic has done nothing to lose the award this season, I believe Joel Embiid has played just a little better.
Why Embiid Should Win
Embiid, on the other hand, is currently sitting as the league’s leading scorer, and is on pace to be the first center to win the NBA scoring title since Shaquille O’Neal back in his MVP campaign in 2000. He has scored 40 points ten times the season, with his most recent high scoring output coming against the Chicago Bulls on Monday. He would go on to score 43 points in a double digit win against the East third seed.
While his advanced stats cannot compare to Jokic this season, I believe the eye test is what puts Embiid over the top. Unlike Jokic who is a willing facilitator and someone who often relies on his outside game, Joel Embiid is a true throwback. He is able to dominate any player in the post as he is currently leading the league by wide margin in post scoring.
He remains the league leader and clutch points scored this season, which occurs in the final five minutes of a game and when the scores are within five points. To top it all off, the 76ers do have a better record than the Denver Nuggets, and have a legitimate chance of securing the ones in the east. If the Sixers do manage to secure the one seed in the east with newly acquired James Harden, I believe there should be no doubt who will take home the MVP trophy this season.