Why Joel Embiid is leading the MVP race
When explaining why Joel Embiid is the current MVP it is essential to note that he has been a catalyst for the 76ers hot start to the season. (David Zalubowski/AP)

When talking about the MVP race this season, Embiid’s name is often overlooked. But once taking a closer look into the numbers he has been putting up this season, it is clear as to why Joel Embiid is the current MVP.

Embiid’s production has the 76ers sitting at a 15-6 record in first place of the Eastern Conference. He is currently averaging 28.3 PPG, 11.1 REB, and 2.8 AST, while shooting 54.4% from the field and 40.4% from three point range, showing that he can be effective from all over the floor. Embiid is currently the only player in the NBA that is top ten in PPG (4th) and RPG (8th). Without his stellar production, Philadelphia would certainly not be atop the Eastern Conference like they currently are.

The star center has also been tremendous on the defensive end of the floor as well. Embiid currently ranks in the top ten in defensive rating and defensive win shares, displaying how he impacts the game in a multitude of ways. It is also important to note that the 76ers are a completely different team when he doesn’t play. Philadelphia is currently 1-4 when Embiid doesn’t play and are 14-2 when he does play, showing how much of a difference he makes when he is on the floor.

The point of the MVP award is to reward the most valuable player in terms of their teams success and I don’t think any player is more valuable to the success of their team right now compared to Embiid. The star center also received player of the month honors for the Eastern Conference for the month of January.

Head Coach Doc Rivers was recently asked about Embiid’s production this year and praised the big man’s talent and ability he has shown throughout the season so far.

“He’s just more talented than even I knew,” Rivers said via Sports Illustrated. “I knew he was extremely talented but he has so many more gifts. You know, off the dribble, he can make his spots. One of his weak points I guess was post passing and he’s been phenomenal in that this year.”

Rivers on Embiid’s start to the season

So where does Embiid stack up against the other candidates in the MVP race? The biggest competition by far for this award has to be Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic who is currently averaging 26.8 PPG, 11.8 REB, and 8.6 AST. Jokic has been nothing short of spectacular this season and has lead the Nuggets to a 12-8 record in a competitive Western Conference.

It is extremely close between these two but my argument for Embiid over Jokic is the way that the 76ers have looked when Embiid is on the floor as compared to when he is off it. The 76ers have been practically unbeatable when he plays which shows the value he brings to the table night in and night out. Jokic presents the same type of impact but due to the fact that Philadelphia has been playing so well and Denver has been very hot and cold I feel like Embiid slightly edges out Jokic.

If Embiid is able to keep up this pace and the 76ers stay atop the Eastern Conference, there is no reason why the center should not be a finalist for the award. It will be a close and exciting race, but look for his name to gain some heavy traction as the season progresses.