By Connor Thomas
The Sixers take on the Charlotte Hornets at the Wells Fargo Center tonight, and everyone’s eyes will be undoubtedly fixated on one man: Joel Hans Embiid. The Sixers, who have not lost since December 23rd, are looking for their Eastern Conference best 8th straight win in a row, and they owe a lot of that streak to the dominance of Embiid. Over the 7 games that the Sixers have won since falling to the Atlanta Hawks in late December, Embiid has scored 30+ in every single one of them, including an unreal 31/15/10 outing against the Houston Rockets. The stretch has placed Embiid firmly back into the MVP conversation, and if this level of play continues, he could end up having a better argument for it than he even had last year when he was the runner up for the award. Looking at the big man’s numbers over this 7 game stretch compared to where other NBA MVP contenders’ numbers stand, there’s no doubt that Embiid should be considered as one of the top players in the NBA, but how does he stack up to actually take home the award?
Well, over the Sixers’ 7 game win streak, Embiid’s averages are transcendent. He’s averaging 32.9 ppg, 10.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.4 blocks. The turnovers haven’t been perfect, but as his vision of double teams continues to improve, he’s limited them to 3.3 a game over the last 7, a number that you’ll take considering his usage and other abilities. All of that comes together to an average of +11.4 a game in the +/- category. The other top contenders for the award right now according to odds are Stephen Curry (+135), Kevin Durant (+220), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+850), Nikola Jokic (+1500), and Ja Morant, who is tied at +3000 with Joel Embiid. Being tied for the 5th best odds to win MVP puts you in elite company already, but his numbers recently might just vault him to the top. Kevin Durant currently leads the league in points per game at 29.8; Embiid is averaging over 3 points more a game over the last 7. Nikola Jokic is averaging 14.1 rebounds on the year, good for the best of the MVP candidates, but Embiid’s 10.1 over this win streak would put him close to Jokic and just a bit behind Giannis, who is averaging 11.4 boards. Embiid’s 4.7 assists aren’t breaking any records, but it would be good for top 37 in the NBA, and 2nd among Centers. His 1.4 blocks per game over the last 7 is even with his average for the season and good for 13th in the league.
When you combine all of those numbers, what do you get? Well, recently at least, Embiid has been the best scorer in the NBA, while continuing to be a dominant big man with unicorn abilities. Now, in fairness, the schedule the Sixers have been playing has not been the toughest in the NBA by any stretch of the imagination. The Brooklyn Nets are the only of the 7 straight teams that they have taken down that are currently in a playoff spot. While it has been pretty much the basement of the NBA, though, Embiid still has gone out there and produced. Tonight against Charlotte, he’ll have another chance to be dominant, and expect him to be just that. It’s a small sample size, against some easy opponents, but there is no secret anymore: Joel Embiid is back in the MVP race, and he may still be getting better.