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Nikola Jokic vaults back in front of Joel Embiid on’s MVP Ladder

With nine days left in the regular season, the 2022-23 MVP race is as contested as ever.

Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After spending some time atop’s MVP Ladder, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has fallen to second again, with Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic leapfrogging him. As a reminder, these rankings are not representative of the NBA as an entire monolith but of solely the writer, Michael C. Wright, who pens this weekly column.

Behind Jokic and Embiid to round out the top five are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis. For Jokic’s section, Wright wrote the following segment:

“Jokic’s standing at the top could prove tenuous in an MVP race that’s shaping up to be the closest since 1989-90, when Magic Johnson bested Charles Barkley in a vote separated by 22 points. Interestingly, Jokic sat out of Denver’s 107-88 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday with right calf tightness. With Jokic leading the way, the Nuggets are close to clinching the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history. Jokic served up his 29th triple-double in Embiid’s absence on Monday, and, in 16 appearances since the All-Star break, Jokic has increased his scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage.

For Embiid’s section, Wright wrote the following segment:

“Embiid returned from Monday’s absence in a loss to the Nuggets to light up the Dallas Mavericks for 25 points and nine rebounds two nights later. That game marked the NBA scoring leader’s 56th outing with at least 25 points and five rebounds, according to research from Stathead. Embiid said he first felt his calf injury in a March 22 win at Chicago, and the club held him out in the second half of that contest before he returned for a back-to-back set at Golden State and Phoenix on Friday and Saturday before sitting out Monday at Denver. The third-place Sixers host Toronto on Friday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass). Prioritizing health may be the way to go for a squad poised to make serious noise in the postseason.”

On Thursday, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps published another installment of his MVP straw poll, where Embiid edged out Jokic by just two points. Jokic received 42 first-place votes to Embiid’s 40, but Embiid’s 45 second-place votes to Jokic’s 39 gave him the slight advantadge.

Both the Nuggets and Sixers have six games remaining. Denver’s 51-25 record is slightly better than Philadelphia’s 50-26. For the third consecutive season, the MVP race runs through these two tremendously dominant centers.

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