After logging his 24th 35-point match of the campaign, the most by a center since Moses Malone (25) in 1981-82, Philadelphia’s Embiid finally took over Nikola Jokic’s first place in the Kia MVP Ladder and leading the race for the first time this year.
24 games scoring over 35 points per contest is no joke, as Malone went on to win MVP that season. 18 years later, Shaquille O’Neal recorded 23 in the 1999-00 tournament. And now the Frenchman has now posted seven straight games with at least 30 points scored.
In Wednesday night’s 118-109 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the six-time All-Star registered another monster stat line with 36 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, and four blocks in 39 minutes of play. Additionally, he shot 12-of-19 (63.2%) from the field, 2-of-5 (40%) beyond the arc, and a flawless 10-of-10 (100%) at the foul line.
Joel Embiid is now currently the betting favorite to win the 2023 NBA MVP.
Uh oh. 👀🍿 pic.twitter.com/4zHQ6WufFz
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) March 16, 2023
Based on a few NBA betting sites, Joel Embiid is now the No. 1 favorite to win his first MVP award. As of this week, sportsbooks show the Philadelphia center possesses greater odds than both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic
Just two weeks ago, the big man said all he really wants is the respect he feels he deserves as he’s fallen short in MVP voting the past two seasons. “What I can control is to try to win a championship,” Embiid said, who’s been shooting a career-best 54.1% from the field. “And I feel like that’s the only way I’m going to get that respect.”
As for Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who’s worthiness has been backed up by stats all season long, has been struggling in recent games. It’s not necessarily the Serbian who’s been struggling, but his team in general, after the Denver squad has failed to keep up their great performances from the start of the season even though they are still at the top of the Western Conference.
As nothing is written is stone, we know that this final 13-game push for playoffs will bring new shuffling at the top of this MVP Ladder. As for Antetokounmpo, who’s squad is at the top of the general standings, has missed three out of the last six Bucks contests due to a sore wrist he’s been carrying around ever since the All-Star weekend.
Nevertheless, he’s been dropping at least 25 points per match in those outings and as he hopes to leave his injury behind, he’ll probably grow in confidence towards post-season. “We’re a really good team. But nothing is guaranteed in life,” the foward said. “Hopefully, with everybody we have on this team we’re able to go out there and compete.
“Before we even get there, we’ve got to compete with health. That’s the No. 1 opponent that we have right now. If we are healthy, we are able to have a chance to go out there and compete and try to get what we deserve.”
As for the fourth and fifth spot, Jayson Tatum has kept his stats worthy of his position in the race, but Luka Doncic has been close to dropping out of the top five, as Dallas has fallen out of shape lately and he’s been struggling with injuries.
Here are the NBA’s Top 10 contenders for the peak of the Kia MVP Ladder:
1. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (last week’s rating: No. 2)
2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (last week’s rating: No. 1)
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (last week’s rating: No. 3)
4. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (last week’s rating: No. 4)
5. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (last week’s rating: No. 5)
6. Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings (last week’s rating: No. 8)
7. Julius Randle, New York Knicks (last week’s rating: No. 7)
8. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder (last week’s rating: No. 10)
9. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers (last week’s rating: No. 9)
10. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (last week’s rating: not ranked)