Jimmy Casey ‘22
The first and most popular choice to become the league’s most valuable player is the Nuggets’ do-it-all center Nikola Jokic. He’s averaging an insane stat-line, especially for a big man. 26.2 points, 11 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game is unheard of for a player of his size. He’s also doing it at an efficient rate, with a field goal percentage of 56.7%, a three-point percentage of 40.9%, and a free throw percentage of 85.8%. He hasn’t missed a game either, which is exceptionally impressive in a year when seemingly every star player has been sidelined for some period of time. He won’t blow people away with his athleticism or rim protection, but he more than makes up for it on the offensive end. He’s led the Nuggets to a 40-21, 4th best in the conference. If he could keep his squad as high as the 4th seed for the remainder of the season, he’ll have as good of a chance as anyone to bring home the big prize.
Following a down year by his standards, Embiid has been incredible for the Sixers this season. His 29.8 points per game is nearly seven points better than his average last year, and he’s also grabbing 11.1 boards, 3 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game. He’s hitting shots at a more efficient clip as well, shooting 51.6% from the field, 37.9% from three, and 85.5% from the free throw line, all of which are career highs. Embiid’s an elite defender too. He’s widely known as one of the league’s best rim protectors, and he guards smaller players better than most people at his size. Embiid’s biggest problem, as has often been the case during his career, is durability. When he’s played, Embiid has been the most dominant paint force in the NBA. The Embiid-led Sixers are 2nd in the Eastern Conference with a record of 40-21. Yet, as some say, “the best ability is availability,” and Embiid has missed a significant number of games. If he can stay on the floor and secure the 1st seed for Philadelphia, however, he might be able to sneak away with the MVP.
Like many people, I’m relatively torn on who I think should win the award. While I’d personally like to see a third guy fight their way back into contention, my belief is that it’ll come down to Jokic and Embiid. These two have been the most dominant all season long, with no real hiccups in performance besides Embiid’s aforementioned injury troubles. I believe that, in the end, Jokic will ultimately take home the MVP. Embiid has had an amazing season, but the missed games are simply insurmountable to argue against – especially when the other guy hasn’t missed a single one. And that isn’t to say that Jokic doesn’t deserve it, because he definitely does. What he’s done on the offensive end of the floor is unprecedented for the center position, and he should be acknowledged for that. So, unlike in the Batman movies, the Joker will finally win!