Joel Embiid has been on an absolute tear all season long. The Philadelphia 76ers big man is averaging a career-high 30.1 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 blocks and a steal per game. To top it off, he's the leader of the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, and they have the conference finals in their sights this year. Every night Embiid is a dominant presence on both ends of the floor, looking like a tank on offense, mowing over any defender opposing teams put in front of him, and acting like a brick wall on the other end of the floor.
Embiid has had renewed focus on conditioning -- two things that have been weaknesses for him in the past -- and it's paying dividends not just for his game, but for the Sixers franchise as well. He's been in the MVP conversation all season long, and at one point was considered the favorite. So it's no surprise that when he was asked if he should walk away with the trophy at the end of the season, he was completely confident in his answer.
"There's no doubt [I'm MVP]," Embiid said via Stadium. "The main thing that I'm always focusing on is winning. When you win everyone on this team wins. If you're not winning those things aren't going to come. My focus is always about winning the championship, and with winning comes rewards. I've been dominant all season, it feels like every time I have the ball they send three guys on me, and I'm still able to do what I do best. When you look at our rankings and my numbers, I feel like I should be on the All-Defensive Team, too, because I can do it on both sides."
76ers star Joel Embiid sits down with @Stadium: “There’s no doubt (I’m MVP). I’ve been dominant all season. I’m not going to stop.” On motivation from feeling disrespected and frustrated last season, Shaq’s criticism “opened my eyes to actually realize that I can be that guy.” pic.twitter.com/Ud3O2APOkV— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 22, 2021
Embiid makes great points on why he should win MVP, as well as his case to make the All-Defensive Team as well. The only thing knocking his candidacy for the former, though, is the 18 games he's missed this season, including a 10-game absence due to a knee injury. In a condensed season, the number of games missed is more crucial than previous seasons, and might be the difference between him winning or coming in second place for the award.
When Embiid's been on the floor this season, however, he's had very few duds. He's had one game where he's scored in single digits, and only 12 where he's scored below 25 points. He hit a new career high against the Bulls in February when he dropped 50 points, and has put up 40-plus points in four other occasions this season. He ranks first in the league in player efficiency rating (31.5) and sixth in the league in win shares (7.6).
While the number of missed games might be a knock on his MVP candidacy, it can't be denied that Embiid is oftentimes the best player on the floor when healthy and available.