Amid a chaotic campaign, a deep Eastern Conference, and the absence of his co-star, Joel Embiid is putting on one of the best performances of his career.
Through 41 games so far, he is averaging a career-high 29.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game on 49% shooting. The 76ers, who are 7-3 in their last 10 games, sit 5th in the East with a 32-21 record overall.
The surprising run has Embiid squarely in the MVP conversation, a conversation that Embiid himself believes he's winning. Speaking to reporters earlier this week, he made a candid remark about where he stands on the race:
While the 4x All-Star does not win any humility points here, there are plenty of people who agree with his position.
Shaquille O'Neal, who once dominated the same position as Embiid, raved about the Sixers big man last month.
"Over the last 15 years it's been unclear to me what the definition of the 'Most Valuable Player' is. There's some coocoos like Charles [Barkley] and Kenny [Smith] that say, 'oh, this team has a better record, so this guy is MVP.' I always thought the MVP was a singular award, which means you are the baddest guy in the league, and the baddest guy in the league right now is Joel Embiid, but there are others six players, so hopefully the media doesn't penalize Embiid and goes with another guy who's close and whose team has a better record..."
Embiid, 27, struggled to stay healthy early on in his career. He didn't touch the court for his first two seasons out of college and only played 31 games during his rookie campaign.
Today, he has become one of the most dependable players in the NBA. His health and skills are at an all-time high and it is clear to everyone that he is among the best players in basketball.
Hopefully, Daryl Morey and the 76ers take advantage of Embiid's play and make the most out of his prime while it lasts.