The MVP candidacy of Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid has been gaining steam ever since he returned from COVID in late November. While he was an excellent player prior to that three-week absence, his scoring has exploded over the past three months as he’s regained the offensive form of last year, when he finished second in MVP voting.
I’m never someone who plays into the narrative concept of MVP. I think narrative-based award criteria is faulty. Players should be assessed for their on-court performance, not the storylines surrounding that. But many voters roll with narratives and it’s inarguable Embiid’s narrative was boosted last week when he dropped 42-14-5-1 in a nationally televised road win over the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, going toe-to-toe with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 32-11-9-3-1 (yes, I know, both teams were shorthanded).
The oddsmakers over at DraftKings seemingly agree. Embiid is now +130 to win MVP, comfortably ahead of Nikola Jokic (+270) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+400). Stephen Curry sits fourth at +1000, so it’s clear these three are rightfully and currently in a tier of their own.
You really can’t go wrong with any of Embiid, Jokic or Antetokounmpo for MVP. All three have been brilliant and assuredly the league’s three best players this season. As they (and perhaps late risers) duke it out, the final third of the season should be splendid. But for now, Embiid appears to stand tall in that top spot.