Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers went on the road to Cleveland to take on the 4th seeded Cavaliers with a chance to essentially lock up the race for the 3 seed in the East. They handled that task, knocking off Cleveland behind another vintage performance from Joel Embiid, and a little help from the officials who overturned what appeared to be a clear 6th foul on the Sixers’ center. That call notwithstanding, Embiid put up 36 points, 18 boards, and 3 assists while also playing stellar defense down the stretch. It was what most would call an MVP caliber performance, but the voters for that award don’t necessarily have to agree… or do they? 

Yes, that’s right, Joel Hans Embiid of your Philadelphia 76ers is now the odds-on favorite to win the NBA MVP award with only 14 games remaining. With some sportsbooks, he’s as much as a –115 favorite, which isn’t a huge margin, but a notable mark for the now 29-year-old (happy birthday, Joel) Cameroonian that seems to be unable to ever get the respect he deserves. This season, though, it has been undeniable how dominant Embiid has been for the Sixers, who have a real shot at being a top 2 seed in the East, and almost surely will finish with one of the top 4 records in the NBA regular season. He’s leading the league in scoring, averaging 33.4 ppg, and he’s also 9th in rebounds per game across the association, which should cement his case as the best player on the planet. 

Now, the question is whether or not the voters will be volatile over the final couple weeks of the regular season. This Wednesday was the first day of the season that Embiid was the favorite for MVP, so it’s not like he has had this locked down for months now. If Nikola Jokic, who is 2nd in the odds, goes out and puts up 40-10-10 in his next game, will the voters flip back? Will it take more heroics from Joel Embiid down the stretch as the Sixers’ schedule gets tougher? And if the Sixers slide in record, will Embiid be penalized by the voters? These are all valid questions that will be answered over the next 3 weeks or so, but one thing we know for sure: Joel Embiid, finally, has the inside track to the most coveted individual award in basketball. Maybe this year is finally the year.