What to Make of the Joel Embiid MVP Rumors

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There’s little doubt in the minds of those in Philadelphia that Sixers star Joel Embiid deserves to win this season’s MVP award. Many around the league — fans, journalists, what have you — may feel differently, but there has been plenty of vocal support for Embiid, especially from current and former players. No MVP has been announced, so it still remains a race but one that Nikola Jokic currently leads by a large margin, but is the tide turning? There has been a lot of inexplicable chatter recently suggesting that Joel Embiid will be named the NBA’s MVP but is there any truth to this?

How We Got Here

The rumors began with one simple tweet from Justin Morris — an editor with Fox Sports and contributor for the New York Times. Sources allegedly informed Morris that multiple NBA executives would be coming to Philadelphia to attend Game 3 of the Sixers’ series against the Heat to award the 76ers’ superstar with the award.

It wasn’t after long that this tweet was deleted without explanation — other than the likely feedback received over such a bold claim. The message was over the airwaves. However, people began to believe, and more was to follow.

These rumors were further stoked by Philadelphia radio personality Anthony Gargano who claimed he also heard that the Sixers’ franchise player would receive the award. Now the immediate thought is that the 97.5 radio host had seen or heard Morris’ report and ran with it, but without any hard evidence, it’s still possible that Gargano heard such news elsewhere, but regardless, that’s just the beginning of the story.

*That Guy*

Derek Bodner of The Daily Six Newsletter steps with a much-needed dose of reality. Bodner (formerly of The Athletic, USA Today, and more) — not wanting to be a wet blanket but also not wanting people to be puppets to their own emotions — voiced why a Joel Embiid MVP may not be in the cards for Game 3.

While Derek may not have wanted to be “that guy,” he was completely right to do so. The fact that the award will be announced on TNT and the game was shown on ESPN was enough to write off the previous rumors, but the logic against a Game 3 crowning didn’t end there — but more on that in a bit.

About Last Night

Unsurprisingly, Joel Embiid was not announced as the MVP of the league last night — though he certainly looked the part leading the team to a dominant win over the top-seeded Miami Heat. While it came as a disappointment to many Sixers fans, there was never any logical reason to believe last night was the night; it just felt like a fantastic story.

The story wasn’t over, though, just because Embiid didn’t leave the building with the hardware. As soon as the game ended, even more noise came forward in the form of an alleged misprint on NBA.com. The article referred to the Sixers’ franchise player as “KIA MVP Joel Embiid,” sparking anew the rumors of Embiid winning the award he’s sought after for so long.

The opening sentence of this article is clearly eye-catching. Shortly after, the post was edited to say “KIA MVP finalist,” but was it really as simple as a typo? Was it a playful nod to the false rumors before the game? Or is there something genuine about this concept of Joel Embiid winning the MVP award?

Until an announcement is made, any speculation about who will win the NBA’s KIA MVP award is simply that, speculation. However, there are dots one can connect in an attempt to make an educated guess.

Does Joel Embiid Have a Shot?

The short answer is an obvious yes, as not all votes have been accounted for, yet the consensus seems to be that it would be a surprise for him to win the award. There was no reason to believe that Embiid was set to win the award last night, and it has nothing to do with whether or not he is deserving. Clearly, Joel Embiid has been one of the top players in the league this year. However, the narrative that has been pushed for months now surrounds the idea of Nikola Jokic repeating as the winner of the award.

This goes to show Derrick Bodner’s point about the MVP votes that have been made public and how that doesn’t exactly bode well for the Philadelphia favorite. The voting results that have been made public have Jokic leading Joel Embiid by nearly 150 points, far from the results expected to make such a public announcement out of the blue.

The Votes So Far

Per Max Croes, who took the liberty of organizing a list of public votes made about NBA award winners, Embiid trails Jokic by 140 points, equal to 14 first-place votes. While only about 54% of the first-place votes have been accounted for, it would be a miraculous comeback effort for Joel Embiid to claim the MVP award as his own.

While the race isn’t over until it’s over, it would be quite an amazing thing for Embiid to make up his current 140-point deficit. Joel Embiid has certainly deserved recognition as an MVP finalist, and he’s arguably been the most valuable player, as seen be the difference between the first two games against Miami and Game 3. The Sixers will continue to hope for their Embiid to be finally recognized by the league with this award, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards this year.

Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo all had incredible seasons and deserve to be at the front of the conversation. It’s hard to say that there is a “wrong” vote for any of the three, but Joel Embiid has willed his team every step of the way. He is just about as valuable to this Sixers team as a player can be and should continue receiving the love from the city and its fans that an MVP deserves.

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