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Today in ‘Things That Don’t Make Sense’: Nikola Jokic sprints ahead of Joel Embiid in latest ESPN MVP straw poll

Prepare to get angry, Sixers fans.

Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Today, ESPN Senior NBA writer Tim Bontemps published his latest MVP straw poll — which asks “100 media members to participate in an informal poll that mimics the postseason awards voting.” Bontemps most recently conducted the poll in mid-February, and when he did, the results showed that Sixers’ superstar Joel Embiid held the slight edge over last year’s winner, Denver Nuggets’ star Nikola Jokic.

At the time, Embiid tallied 45 first-place votes to Jokic’s 43, and 789 total points to Jokic’s 754.

Well, my friends, it appears that things have changed.

In today’s version of the poll, Jokic has sprinted past Embiid to overtake him for first place, with a whopping 62 first-place votes to Embiid’s 29, and 860 total points to Embiid’s 719.

Look. Jokic is a fantastic player. He’s a worthy MVP candidate. But I have absolutely no clue what he has done whatsoever to completely upend these results between mid-February and today, while he and Embiid have mostly maintained their level of play. Are they simply penalizing Embiid for now having James Harden as a teammate?

How enraged you, a Sixers fan, should be at this news largely comes down to how much stock you put into this poll. Bontemps states within the article that the winner of the final straw poll throughout the past four seasons has gone on to win the MVP trophy, so take that as you will.

It should be noted that Joel Embiid remains the odds-on betting favorite across all of the leading betting sites to win the award outright, for whatever that’s worth. But this poll has already been nudging those odds, so keep an eye out.

There will be time for us to dive into the statistical and narrative cases between Embiid and Jokic when the dust settles; time for me, personally, to scream about the travesty of Embiid being snubbed for this award, if that happens. I hope it doesn’t! I hope he’s properly recognized. I hope voters understand the load he took on this year, on both ends of the court (note: the word both here, is meant to emphasize that being excellent at defense is remarkably important, especially for a center) and in the locker room.

The race is still tight, but if this poll means anything (and it sure seems that it does) Joel now, all of a sudden, for some odd reason, needs to make up ground. The most he and the Sixers can do is storm through the remainder of their mostly cushy schedule and secure the one seed and leave no doubt that he was the best player in the world this season.

Some food for thought as I go:

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