The NBA MVP race and debate are over.
At least, that’s what one would believe if they read Tim Bontempts’s straw poll of established voters for the award that was posted in early February.
In that survey, it was revealed that the balloters had chosen the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic as the league’s Most Valuable Player, and with an overwhelming majority at that.
Bontempts’s straw poll had 77 first-place votes going to the Joker, with only 11 for the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo who was second place in total points, and just six first-place nods for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid.
With those margins set with less than two months left in the regular season, it was hard to envision anybody supplanting Nikola Jokic for the top spot in the NBAs MVP ladder.
And yet, a few weeks later, Joel Embiid has been on a tear since the All-Star break while Jokic has seemingly slowed down, particularly on the defensive end of the court, as the Denver Nuggets have practically locked up the one-seed in the Western Conference and home-court advantage throughout their postseason run. Analysts have started to take notice, as have fans.
A week ago, it was impossible to scroll through NBA Twitter without seeing a montage of the Joker’s getting eviscerated on defense by the likes of Nikola Vucevic and the lowly San Antonio Spurs.
Momentum has started to build in Joel Embiid’s favor, and it’s reflected in the coverage of the league. In NBA.com’s latest MVP ladder report, which is done by a single writer and not an interpretation of the consensus sentiment of the award voters, the Sixers’ leading man has risen to the second rung from his previous designation at fourth.
There’s no reason to believe that Embiid couldn’t overtake Jokic for the top spot, even if the ladder was presented by just a single media member. The tides have obviously started to turn, and the Philadelphia 76ers have upcoming matchups with both the Denver Nuggets and the Milwaukee Bucks who employ Embiid’s other top competitor for the MVP award in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If Embiid can dominate in both of those games and lead his Sixers to victories over his rivals, it would be pretty difficult for voters to justify snubbing him for the Michael Jordan Trophy.
At the least, the NBA’s MVP discussion isn’t nearly as closed, as ESPN was making it out to be a month ago.
Joel Embiid went OFF in the Sixers W on Wednesday night.
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| Title: Joel Embiid closing in on Nikola Jokic in NBA’s MVP race
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Mar 15, 2023