Joel Embiid has finally done it. After playing at a MVP-worthy level for the last three seasons, he’s officially been announced as the 2022-23 NBA MVP.
Embiid was up against fellow finalists Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, the latter of whom looked like the favorite for most of the year until the Nuggets’ play and Jokic’s narrative started faltering somewhat in the final weeks of the season. Meanwhile, Embiid kept dominating, kept adding statement performances to his campaign (like his 52-point masterclass in a win over the Celtics on Apr. 4), and the Sixers held firm with the third-best record in the league.
Joel Embiid is the first player to win the Kia NBA MVP Award with the 76ers since Allen Iverson in the 2000-01 season.— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 2, 2023
Complete voting results ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/kko3o8tmxi
Embiid finished the season with truly dominant numbers. He recorded a career-high and league-leading 33.1 points per game to go along with 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists (tying his career-high), one steal, and 1.7 blocks (his highest average since 2018-19). He was more efficient than ever, too. Embiid added more career-highs in field goal percentage (54.8), made free throws (10 per game), and most importantly true shooting percentage at a whopping 65.5, a significant increase from his mark of 61.6 last season.
And as the first center to claim back-to-back scoring titles since Bob McAdoo had three straight from 1974-76, Embiid has added some extra history to his MVP case as well.
Just as he always has, Embiid anchored the Sixers at both ends of the floor this season — leading their third-ranked offense with James Harden as a perfect floor general to assist him along the way, while protecting the paint as the backbone of their eighth-ranked defense. As the Sixers were one of only three teams to finish top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating, and even ranked third in net rating at +4.4, they certainly had the well-rounded team performance to complement Embiid’s MVP case.
Ultimately, after two years of narrowly missing out as the runner-up, everything came together this season to give Embiid the case he needed to finally get his hands on an MVP trophy.
The focus of the Sixers’ season is obviously firmly still on their playoff run, but what an accomplishment this is for Embiid. After the remarkable last few seasons he’s had, and the long journey he’s been on to develop and climb to this level, he’s well and truly earned it.