There has been a growing wave of support for Joel Embiid to win his first ever NBA MVP award recently. We’ve now heard names like Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green, Chicago Bulls’ star Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves’ point guard Mike Conley Jr., and Portland Trailblazers legend Damian Lillard weigh in on how they think the 76ers superstar deserves to win MVP over the likes of Denver Nuggets’ star Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Now another heavy hitter has cast his two cents into the hotly/debated topic.
The greatest shooter of all time, the back-to-back NBA MVP, the first ever unanimously voted MVP, the 2022 NBA Finals MVP, the all-time NBA leader in made threes, the four-time champion, ruler of the iron islands, rightful king of the seven kingdoms, father of dragons, first of his name, Shield of His People, the one, the only, Stephen Curry, believes Joel Embiid should win MVP.
I threw a few Game of Thrones-isms into his resume just for fun but it sure didn’t need any embellishment. And really, how can you argue with him?
According to Chris B. Haynes, with TNT, writing for Bleacher Report, Curry shared his thoughts on the most hotly contested MVP race in history.
“Embiid is poised to win his second consecutive scoring title, and the 51-27 Sixers are almost certain to enter postseason play as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, a two-time MVP and the only player in history to win the award unanimously, revealed who his vote would go to this year.
“I would say Joel,” Curry told Bleacher Report. “Any person you pick, their body of work could be compared to Jokić or Giannis. But Joel took a leap that I think a lot of people didn’t expect because he was dominant already. That leap turned heads and put Philly in a great position. If I had to pick, it would be him.”
The case for Embiid was a very strong one year ago, especially as the Sixers wound up with a better record than the sixth-seeded Denver Nuggets.
This go round, Denver, in a decreasingly fierce Western Conference, is the top seed. But like Curry says, Embiid, who was very much worthy of the honor one year ago, took yet another leap forward this season to a degree even many of his most ardent supporters did not see coming.
Each summer it seems that Joel comes back with a few new Hakeem Olajuwon dream-shakes, a few new Kevin Durant hesi’s, a few new Kobe Bryant pull ups, a few new Dirk Nowitzki one-legged fadeaways, and a few new ways to draw fouls. Joel was always a bucket from midrange, but this season his elbow corner office has become basically a layup for him with James Harden setting him up perfectly whenever both players are healthy.
According to Giannis’ coach Mike Budenholzer, per Ky Carlin, SixersWire:
“The offensive skill and touch that he has at his size is phenomenal and I just think his shot-making, his touch from 15-to-17 feet, it looks effortless,” Budenholzer said of Embiid. “It looks like a layup for him. He can take it out to the 3-point line, then he takes you off the dribble, incredibly crafty and creative about getting to the free-throw line.”
Jokic, who averages 24.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, 9.9 assists, has appeared in 67 games. He’s battled a calf issue the last week that has cost him the team’s last three contests.
But reading between the lines, Embiid has only played 57 less total minutes total than Jokic, despite playing in three less games. And that includes Jo playing at an All-Defensive Team level this season. Joker, on the other hand, isn’t quite as impactful on that end.
“Nikola Jokic is giving up more points when trying to defend layups than any player in the history of the player tracking era (since 2013)”— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) April 1, 2023
(h/t @RTNBA ) pic.twitter.com/6e3c0OmDjT
Something tells me that if Embiid was just a one-end-of-the-floor player he could appear in a few more ballgames, maybe even wrack up a few more assists, which media voters seem to weight disproportionally compared to defense.
Defense isn’t easy on the body, especially in an increasingly uptempo NBA.
As for Embiid’s case vs. Giannis, here’s how I put it on Twitter recently:
Holiday was an All-Star who seems live for All-NBA, and All Defensive teams. Lopez seems likely to win DPOY. Middleton is really starting to ramp up. Add in a top 3 overall payroll + a great coach? Giannis is easily a top 3 player but his MVP case rests heavily on his team. https://t.co/0C758MZvw1— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) April 3, 2023
Embiid has logged 224 more minutes than Giannis. That’s more than 4.5 full 48 min ballgames. Voters look at total games played but workload should probably matter too— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) April 3, 2023
With Lillard, Green, and Curry all casting their “votes” (of course they don’t really have a vote, sadly) that’s more than a bit of very credible future Hall of Fame validation for Embiid’s candidacy.
Joel is a -200 favorite right now per OddsChecker.com.
Embiid is averaging a league-leading 33.0 points, to go with 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and a steal per game.
He has scored exactly 14 more points than Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić in the same number of games. Luka has three games remaining, and his team has at least some incentive to shut him down and tank. Philadelphia has four games left on the slate.
Dallas would lose their draft pick if they fell out of the top 10, shipping their pick over to Leon Rose and the New York Knicks. It wouldn’t be bad at all for the Sixers if that’s how Mark Cuban decided to play it. Embiid has a chance to become the first center since Kareem Abdul-Jabaar to win back-to-back scoring titles. That hasn’t been done in over 50 years.
The Sixers host the Boston Celtics tomorrow. If they can win that one, you’d have to start feeling reasonably confident that Embiid might actually win this thing. Unless you’re really worried about the voters #hatingtheprocess.
Apparently, while the rest of the basketball world is debating between Jokic, Giannis and Joel, The Ringer doesn’t even consider Embiid one of the five best players in the NBA.
Fun stuff. More people should listen to Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Damian Lillard.