Can Joel Embiid capture his first MVP in 2022-2023?
Joel Embiid’s mantra has always been “trust the process”, but his patience may be teetering when it comes to the MVP voting process. He’s been one of the best players on the planet the last two seasons, but because Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić has played at a level we’ve never seen before, Embiid has finished in second place in MVP voting the last two years.
With voter fatigue being very apparent, Embiid has some of the best odds to take home the MVP Award going into next season. As things stand now, Embiid has the second-best odds on FanDuel to win the MVP Award at +550, while Luka Dončić is the favorite at +460.
Getting to full health
Since Embiid entered the league in 2014, he has dealt with countless injuries in his knees and feet. It’s been a major roadblock in his quest to become one of the most dominant forces in the NBA on a consistent basis.
However, Embiid played in 68 games last season, the most games he’s played in a regular season in his career. On top of that, it was Embiid’s best season in the NBA and he made a real case to win MVP. Embiid averaged 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals a game last season, while shooting 50% from the floor and 37% from three.
Even with the Ben Simmons conundrum last season, Embiid was able to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference after the Sixers traded Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets for former MVP James Harden.
The Sixers were able to stave off the Toronto Raptors in the first-round of the playoffs, but Embiid did not come out of the series unscathed. He suffered a thumb injury in Game 3, and then in Game 6, which was the closeout game for the Sixers, Embiid suffered an orbital fracture.
He missed the first two games of the Sixers’ second round series against the Miami Heat. The Heat won the first two games, but when Embiid made his return, he helped tie up the series.
However, Embiid’s injuries were too much for him to overcome and he was unable to get back to full strength. He put up good numbers, but it wasn’t enough for the Sixers and they were sent home in six games. It was a demoralizing way to end the season, but Embiid displayed his toughness and how dominant he can be when he’s at full strength.
With Harden hopefully returning to full strength as well next season, Embiid should have a teammate that can take the pressure off of him offensively, while also being a more than formidable pick-and-roll duo. Defenses will still key in on Embiid the most, but if Harden can get back to even a fraction of his MVP form, it’ll be the best player Embiid has ever played with.
Defensively, Embiid is one of the best defenders in the league, and is the anchor of the Sixers’ defense. With the impact that he makes on both sides of the ball, Embiid’s quest for his first MVP Award could be realized next season.