This season, there’s been a lot of stars that have stepped up and played at a high level. Bradley Beal is leading the league in points per game and helping lead an improving Wizards team. Nikola Jokic has gotten even better as opposed to last season and is averaging a near triple double as a center.
But there has been a spotlight on Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Embiid has exploded into superstar stardom this year, which is a surprise to many fans.
Embiid had huge promise coming out of college at the University of Kansas. In his first two years in the league, Embiid didn’t play due to a foot injury. Now, in five seasons of experience, Embiid has been an all-star in four of them.
A Look at the Past
The outburst of stardom isn’t new to Embiid. He was a highly sought out recruit coming out of high school.
His one season at Kansas didn’t transpire into much, but he had high hopes from NBA scouts that believed he had a lot of potential in the league.
After only averaging 11 points and eight rebounds per game in college, Embiid became a one-and-done and declared for the NBA draft.
He was drafted third overall by the Sixers in 2014. Not having his rookie season until 2016, Embiid has averaged over 20 points his whole career, and double-digit rebounds (besides during his rookie campaign).
So, it’s pretty clear that Embiid has morphed into a stud. He’s living up to the expectation and he and Ben Simmons have revived the Philadelphia 76ers franchise.
A Good Team Helps
From a statistical perspective, Embiid is putting up similar numbers that he has in the last few seasons.
But determining an MVP is more than just looking at stats.
Wilt ChamFirst, you have to look at how much the Sixers have improved as a franchise. Last season, Philly was sixth in the East and got swept in the first round by Boston. They made some offseason adjustments and are now the number one seed in the East with a 24-12 record.
That right there is a big stride for the franchise, especially with all the changes they made in the shortened offseason.
Another factor to remember is that over the last several season, the MVP voting has gone in favor of the best team’s best player. That’s why Giannis and Steph Curry have won twice. In the rare case of having a record-breaking season such as Russell Westbrook in 2017, being on the best team helps a player’s chances of winning.
Embiid the Juggernaut
Despite Philadelphia being the number one seed in the East, they don’t have the best record in the league, and Joel Embiid isn’t breaking any records, so why’s he the favorite?
It’s because of how dominant he is. He’s tallied five 40/10 games this season (in points and rebounds) and he isn’t stopping.
He’s even put up his career-high in points as he put up 50 in a win over the Bulls back in February. In that game, he also put up 17 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks. He joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only Sixer to record a game with 50 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
Not to mention, he’s averaging his career high in points with 30.2 per game.
One special, non-statistical category about Embiid is how dynamic of a center he is. Don’t forget about his size, but he also has an ability to face the basket, showcase some ball-handling and attack the rim or hit a jump shot. The three-pointer is even in his arsenal.
So, to summarize, Joel Embiid is a serious candidate for the MVP. His play this season has proven it, and although how a player plays in the playoffs isn’t considered in the voting, it would solidify his MVP bid.
He’s put up the numbers, he’s dominating his opponent’s night in and night out, and his team is winning. Most importantly, he’s solidifying himself as a superstar.
All stats are from basketballreference.com.
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