Joel Embiid is the Clear-Cut Choice for NBA MVP

Joel Embiid is the Clear-Cut Choice for NBA MVP

The MVP race during this NBA season has been a wild roller coaster ride. At the beginning of the season, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant was dominating the league until an injury sidelined him for 27 games before the All-Star break. Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid soon became the clear-cut favorite for MVP before missing some games 14 in total. 

Then, reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic found himself back in the conversation as he put the Denver Nuggets on his back to the playoffs. Additionally, two-time league MVP and Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo reminded the league that he is still playing at a high level for the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. 

That’s already four names that were in the front of the MVP race at some point during this crazy basketball season. 

At one point, people were looking at DeMar DeRozan for MVP. He and the Chicago Bulls surprised the league with their hot start until they cooled down after the All-Star Break. Then a few people, especially in the West, felt like Devin Booker should be in the conversation with the Phoenix Suns owning the top record in the NBA. With fellow point guard Chris Paul missing 17 games, Booker helped lead the Suns to a 64-18 record, the best record in the league by eight games. 

With respect toward DeRozan and Booker, the MVP will either be Jokic, Antetokounmpo, or Embiid. So who deserves this prestigious award for the 2021-2022 NBA season?

Season of the Big Man

We have become accustomed to seeing guards in the fight for MVP. The league has seen more three-point shooting thanks to players like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Damian Lillard, just to name a few. 

However, in the last three seasons, the MVP award went to big men: Giannis in 2018-19 and 2019-20, then Jokic last season. 

Now this season will make four in a row for a big man securing MVP honors. DeRozan couldn’t sustain an incredible start for the Bulls, as they fell from the top team in the East to the sixth seed going into the playoffs. Booker did help lead the Suns to the best record in the league without CP3 for some games, but his numbers don’t match up with The Joker, Greek Freak, or Process. All three big men averaged at least 29.0 points on 54.0% shooting, 12.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists, so only these three superstars can fight for the MVP.

Want more NBA Award discussion? Check out our take on the 2022 NBA Most Improved Player race.

Joel Embiid is the Choice by a Historic Edge 

You can make a case for all three superstars winning the MVP award and no one would put up much of an argument. 

Jokic, the reigning MVP, is putting up slightly better numbers than he did during his historic 2020-21 campaign. The Nuggets star averaged 27.1 points on 58.3% shooting, 13.8 rebounds, and 7.9 assists this season after averaging 26.4 points on 56.6% shooting, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists last year. 

You definitely can’t rule out The Joker for back-to-back MVP seasons. Especially with how he single-handedly carried the Nuggets — a team without Jamal Murray all season or Michael Porter Jr. for all of nine games — to the sixth seed in the Western Conference. But I can’t choose Jokic for MVP. 

Antetokounmpo is on a mission for back-to-back championships in Milwaukee and has made a case for his third MVP honor. The Greek Freak is averaging 29.9 points on 55.3% shooting, 11 rebounds, and 5.8 assists this season. These numbers are right around the same he had when he won back-to-back MVPs. Not to mention, he led the Bucks to the three seed in the Eastern Conference. 

Giannis is another valuable candidate for MVP and is presently my favorite player in the league. But I can’t make him my MVP.

That only leaves one man left, Joel Embiid. A man who never won MVP or an NBA Championship, but is on the mission to do both this season. 

Embiid and the 76ers dealt with the drama that was Ben Simmons until the trading deadline in February. During that time, Embiid put this team on his back. Though once the James Harden-Ben Simmons trade took place, giving Embiid a superstar teammate, that didn’t change the way he dominated opponents night after night. 

Embiid led the league with 13 40-point games this season. Steph Curry led the league last season with 12 40-point games, so that should tell you something right there. Embiid averaged 30.6 points on 49.9% shooting, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. 

His historic season was punctuated with a scoring title, a feat no center has accomplished since Shaquille O’Neal back in the 1999-00 season when Shaq won MVP honors along with an NBA Championship and Finals MVP. 

Embiid also led the Sixers to a 51-31 record, which was tied for the second-best in the East with the Boston Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks. 

Based on both individual and team performance through the entire season, I have to choose Joel Embiid as my 2021-22 NBA MVP.