For the third-straight season the Philadelphia 76ers boast an MVP favorite in Joel Embiid. And barring some change, the voting will once again come down to Embiid, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As it stands, Jokic is the odds-on favorite to take home his third-straight MVP award. According to FanDuel, Jokic owns -260 odds, while Embiid and Giannis are a distant second and third, at +400 and +700, respectively.
Recently, the debate surrounding the league MVP has sounded less like civil discourse and more like fanbase vitriol, with Jokic and Embiid defenders sparring on social media.
That includes former champion Kendrick Perkins, who now serves as a broadcaster for ESPN. On Tuesday, Perkins fired off a post and threw his hat in the ring for Embiid.
“39 points in 28 minutes!!!! That’s what Joel ‘The Philly’ Embiid had tonight! It’s a d*** shame that certain individuals are going to continue to IGNORE what this man is doing!!! Don’t mind me tho and Carry on…,” Perkins tweeted.
Anthony Edwards Calls Embiid MVP
Perkins isn’t alone in his praise of Embiid.
After the Sixers pummeled the Timberwolves on Tuesday, the game Perkins referenced in his tweet, former No. 1 overall pick and rising star Anthony Edwards also named Embiid as the league’s MVP.
Edwards’ vote underscores a potential rift in the MVP voting between the media and NBA players. Unlike the All-Star Game, the players are not given a vote in the MVP race.
Case in point: the T-Wolves guard isn’t the only player to hint at the league’s best player. During All-Star Weekend, LeBron James selected Embiid as the top-overall pick among the starters. Jokic wasn’t selected until second to last.
Both Edwards, LeBron, and now Perkins’ assertion underscores who players (and in Perkins’ case, former players) view as the league’s best players versus the voting members of the media.
Embiid’s Lobbying Hurting His MVP Chances?
In the past, Embiid has been dinged for his apparent “lobbying” for the MVP award, something members of the media have appreciated that Jokic appears to have an aversion to.
But this season, Embiid is changing his tact. As he explained after another strong performance against Minnesota earlier this week, winning individual honors isn’t the the big man’s motivating factor this season.
“It doesn’t necessarily motivate me, but it’s the same thing with every big in the league. It doesn’t matter who I play. I just feel like I’m going to do my thing regardless. I’m going to dominate. It’s no disrespect to any of them. MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, that doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m still going to be the best player on the floor,” Embiid said.
It’s for the best that Embiid keep his sites set on team success over individual glory. The Sixers enter the postseason stretch one of the most urgent franchises in professional basketball.
After failing to make it past the conference semifinals in each of Embiid’s seasons so far, the implications for yet another early exit can’t be overstated. James Harden faces a free agency decision that feels more like ring-or-bust for Philly to retain him, while Embiid’s patience is likely not infinite, either.