In the midst of a month where he’s averaging a ho-hum 37 points per game, Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid was awarded today with the mild praise of being ranked sixth in NBA.com’s most recent MVP ladder, sponsored by the fine folks at Kia.
Embiid is destroying worlds this season, the Sixers just went on an eight-game winning streak, and the team is surging in the standings. His rebounding has been bad though, he needs to be better at that. But why is he only sixth? (Up from a tie for seventh prior to this, mind you.) I could go on a long tangent about how They Hate the Process or the intangible, ineffable, and in my opinion paper-thin and inconsequential reasons many in the national media seem to simply like Joel less than many ranked above him currently — whether it be the aw shucks humble charm of players like Giannis or Jokic or Luka’s doughy everyman offseasons — but instead I figured I’ll go down the list and make a few remarks about each player ranked above Joel before I split.
1. Nikola Jokic
Averaging 25.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, 9.4 assists per game. He’s excellent, he’s continued to be excellent this season. He never misses games and Joel has. No issue with him being ranked above Jo presently. Minor note: he’s not good at defense (he’s a center) and his team is terrible at defense. Important!
2. Jayson Tatum
Averaging 31.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game. Tatum and the Celtics started the season on fire but are only 5-5 over their last 10. But as a good defender and the fulcrum of an offense of the Celtics whom currently outrank the Sixers, I don’t have a big issue at the moment, but I do think Embiid will be overtaking Tatum within weeks.
3. Luka Doncic
Averaging 33.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 8.9 assists per game. Doncic ranks only a mere decimal point behind Embiid’s league lead in scoring, and his rebounding and assist stats are obviously impressive. His team is only OK, however, at 20-16. But with the Sixers at 20-13, I don’t have a huge leg to stand on. The Sixers are better than the Mavericks, though, and Doncic stinks at defense.
4. Kevin Durant
Averaging 29.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists per game. Durant and the Nets are on fire at the moment, winners of their last 10 contests and with two easy ones on the schedule next as well. He’s not a bad defender and a virtuoso scorer. Durant is clearly the reason the Nets are thriving. Kyrie Irving is Kyrie Irving but is playing very good basketball, and Ben Simmons hasn’t made a free throw since the Wizards series. The Sixers are two back of the Nets at the moment. Once the Nets’ streak ends, I’d think Durant might give way to Joel, the player with bigger overall impact currently.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Averaging 31.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists per game. Joel should be above Giannis! He fell from first to fifth in this ladder, but he should’ve fallen further. They’re 4-6 over their past 10 games, losing four in a row. The Sixers are going in the opposite direction and Joel only rose one spot. You know they’re just itching to keep Giannis in the top five, too. Give Joel his due.