By Connor Thomas
Yesterday, the NBA announced their players of the week for each conference for the past week’s games. Normally these are inconspicuous announcements that go generally unnoticed by fans, but as soon as yesterday’s announcement hit the Twittersphere, it was met with a firestorm of responses, and for good reason. This past week’s players of the week? For the Western Conference it was Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who was well deserving of the award thanks to a dominant week in which he averaged 36.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 10 assists. No argument there. However, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week was awarded to Atlanta’s Trae Young; NBA twitter was none too happy about it. Young didn’t have a bad week; he averaged 31.3/4.0/9.0 in a 4-0 week for the Hawks. The issue that a lot of NBA fans had with the selection was that there was another more deserving player that just so happens to play here in Philly. Joel Hans Embiid has been on an absolutely monstrous run lately, one of the great stretches in the history of basketball. Over this past week, he averaged a completely unbelievable 40 POINTS, 11.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The man averaged a 40 piece over the course of a week in the NBA!!
The main argument (and it’s a weak one) for Trae Young seems to be that the Hawks went 4-0 in the week while the Sixers went 2-2, but this isn’t a team centric award. This award is meant to be given out to the best individual player in each conference, and this week it wasn’t. Joel Embiid has been the best basketball player in the universe (barring the existence of a prime alien Michael Jordan somewhere out there) over this past week, and yet he got completely snubbed for this award. Maybe the most eye-popping stat from this past week of games by Embiid is that he is averaging more points than minutes played over his past 4 games. That is a feat that is nearly impossible to do on back to back nights, much less 4 times in a row within the span of a week. The Sixers’ big man is out here breaking stat books, and meanwhile the NBA is choosing to give weekly best player awards to someone else? It’s downright preposterous that Embiid didn’t take home that honor.
Now, to be honest, the player of the week awards don’t really matter all that much. They’re a nice recognition, but in the grand scheme of Joel Embiid and the Sixers’ goals, it shouldn’t register. What does register, though, are player of the month awards. Embiid is still the Eastern Conference’s defending Player of the Month winner, and looks like he has every right to win again for January. What registers even more on Embiid and the Sixers’ radar is the NBA MVP Trophy. Well, thanks to his incredible stretch, Joel has vaulted himself into 3rd place in the MVP odds at +400, trailing only Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+300 each). Should The Process have taken home this week’s Eastern Conference player honors? Yes, absolutely, but there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to individual awards. Maybe on the smaller scale it didn’t pay off this time, and that’s ridiculous, but Embiid has been transcendent this year, and the odds makers are absolutely taking notice, even if the NBA isn’t.