Much has been made about the MVP race this season, more specifically if Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid should win over the likes of previous winners like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic. ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith believes Embiid is the frontrunner.
On a March 13 episode of First Take, Smith told former Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins why he believes Embiid should win the award.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I know Vegas is saying something different. I don’t want to hear anything about Jokic being a front-runner for the MVP right now, the way Denver has tailed off. Joel Embiid. Joel Embiid! I’m gonna say it one more time, Joel Embiid! I’m sorry, that man has got to be right up there if not No. 1,” Smith said.
As of March 14, the Nuggets have lost four games in a row, as opposed to the Sixers, who have won five in a row. Winning games can impact how MVP voters decide who wins the award, especially if it’s late in the season.
Joel Embiid Does Not Care Much For Awards
After the Sixers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 7, Embiid revealed his thoughts on awards when asked about going up against Rudy Gobert.
“It doesn’t necessarily motivate me, but it’s the same thing with every big in the league. It doesn’t matter who I play. I just feel like I’m going to do my thing regardless. I’m going to dominate. It’s no disrespect to any of them. MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, that doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m still going to be the best player on the floor,” Embiid said.
Embiid added that he doesn’t know who is the frontrunner for MVP while adding where his priorities are currently at.
“I don’t know. That’s not for me to answer. I feel like, obviously, being in the running for the last few years has been whatever, and this year I’ve taken a different approach, trying to focus on the right things: win games, dominate, which I’ve been doing. Whatever happens, happens. Obviously, it would mean a lot to win one. That’s the best award anyone can get, but, like I said, I’m just focused on making sure on, first of all, staying healthy, winning games, and dominating.”
Joel Embiid Ranked No. 2 in MVP Rankings
On the March 10 edition of NBA.com’s MVP rankings, Michael C. Wright ranked Embiid no. 2 behind only Jokic, explaining how Embiid’s play helped the Sixers play well on their road trip.
“On paper, the team’s five-game road trip to start the month looked daunting. But the Sixers handled it masterfully, finishing 4-1 with Embiid dropping 35 points or more in three of those outings,” Wright said.
Wright added Embiid’s role in pulling off crucial victories against the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and Timberwolves.
“The signature showing of the trip took place Saturday in Milwaukee, where Embiid scored 31 points to go with 10 assists and six rebounds in the team’s 133-130 comeback victory against Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Philadelphia rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half to snap the home team’s 16-game winning streak, the league’s longest since Phoenix’s 18-game streak last season. Two nights later, Embiid produced his 11th 40-point night of the season in a win over Indiana before following with a strong showing against a three-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year.”