There has perhaps never been a more intense Most Valuable Player debate than the one that took place this year.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic turned in seasons for the ages. All three stars were deserving of strong consideration for The Sporting News' award. But after polling a panel of 67 media voters from 19 different countries, Embiid is our winner.
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Embiid's statistics speak for themselves. He led the league in scoring with 33.1 points per game. Only James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and George Gervin have averaged more points in a season since the introduction of the 3-point line.
Embiid had some monster scoring outbursts this season, topping 50 points three times. He's become impossible to guard and a true three-level scorer.
Per Cleaning the Glass, he shot a solid 35 percent from the 3-point line, was a deadeye 49 percent on midrangers and an unstoppable 75 percent at the rim. He brought back the post-up, averaging the second-highest number of attempts in the league behind Jokic and scoring in the 84th percentile out of them.
Along with that prodigious scoring, Embiid also contributed 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. He's the only player in the history of the league to hit all of those marks.
Embiid's impact goes far beyond the box score. He provided everything that the Sixers needed throughout the season. During the early portion, he carried the team through a rough stretch of James Harden injuries, scoring 101 points and leading them to two wins over the course of two days in November. He was a versatile contributor, recording 39 double-doubles.
Embiid also led the Sixers to great team success. Their 54 wins were the third-highest total in the league, and many of them came down to him excelling in the clutch.
Per NBA Stats, he had the highest plus-minus of any player in his clutch minutes, and his 131 points in the clutch were the seventh-highest number in the league. Media members recognized his late-game play, as he finished fifth in Clutch Player of the Year voting.
The Sixers were one of only three teams — the others being the Celtics and Cavs — in the top 10 in both offense and defense. The two-way play of the team was anchored by the elite offense and stout defense of Embiid, who also finished ninth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Embiid has been a dominant player for a number of years, but he had previously failed to earn The Sporting News' Most Valuable Player award. It's time to finally recognize his greatness.
Full voting results for The Sporting News' Most Valuable Player award
|1st place votes (5 points)
|2nd place votes (3 points)
|3rd place votes (1 point)