Just a few weeks ago the Philadelphia 76ers were a complete mess. Trading for Tobias Harris had helped the team’s spacing and ability to stretch the floor, however the 76ers were not winning games. Joel Embiid, the 76er’s star center, had missed a stretch of eight games due to knee soreness. In this period, the 76ers looked simply terrible. Going 4-4 in these games, the 76ers looked lost in a of majority games, especially against the Houston Rockets, where they lost by 16 points in a blowout loss. Without Embiid, the team began to look lost. Many fans were already calling for Brett Brown to be fired, or for the team to move on from All-Star, Jimmy Butler. But then Embiid came back.
Since Embiid’s return the 76ers have gone 4-0. Embiid has averaged 27.8 Points, 15.8 Rebounds, and 3.5 Assists in this four game stretch, including a 40 point game in today’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the top team in the Eastern conference. Despite just being injured, Embiid looks like he is at full athletic power, and is ready to lead the 76ers into the playoffs. However, Embiid can achieve more than that, as he should be the 2019 NBA MVP.
So far this season, Embiid is averaging 27.1 PTS, 13.6 REBS and 3.4 ASTS on 48.1 FG%. These numbers are good enough to be in the top ten for most statistical categories in the league. Regardless of the numbers, without Embiid, the 76ers have looked terrible. The award of MVP should go to a player who without them playing, the team would fall apart. In his eight game absence, the 76ers only averaged 108 PPG compared to their 115 PPG on the season. On the floor, Embiid is known for his post- up ability, and his powerful presence collapses the defense on him. Without Embiid in the post, the shooters such as JJ Redick and Tobias Harris are not given enough room to make their shots, as the defenders can now hug onto them. Another standard play of Embiid is the dribble handoff with Redick, as Embiid sets screens on the three-point line with Redick running around to find an open shot. In this play, Embiid also can cut to basket as Redick can pull out the two defenders due to his shooting ability. Again without Embiid, this play is gone, as the others centers on the team do not have the athletic ability to complete it.
Compared to other MVP candidates such as James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Embiid may be outmatched. Harden is putting up historic numbers, as he has had six 50+ point games so far this year. Giannis has been unstoppable on offense and has proven to be a great defender as well. However in these two cases, Harden was the sole scoring option on the Houston Rockets for a majority of the season and most of the “hype” for Giannis comes from highlight plays. Embiid has some tough competition, but he should definitely be seriously considered for MVP.