Joel Embiid's performance this season has made him a frontrunner for the NBA MVP award. The Cameroonian athlete has made a name for himself in the league, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to their Eastern Conference-leading record. While he was sidelined for a few games, Embiid's return has strengthened the team, meanwhile also increasing his chances to bag the MVP award at the end of the season.
The Philadelphia 76ers 131-123 overtime win over the Utah Jazz has only helped Embiid's chances of winning his first MVP award. He excelled offensively and defensively over the Jazz, dropping 40 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal in his 40-minute play. He went head-to-head with two-time Defensive Player of the Year, attempting 13 free throws. He made 10 of them.
JOEL EMBIID.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 4, 2021
That's it. That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/frTyyQuy08
Snubbed a spot on the All-NBA team last season, Embiid's performance this year will be difficult to ignore. A few days ago, Embiid was chosen to be at the top of the MVP ladder over LeBron James and Nikola Jokic. He is averaging 30.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, shooting 52.1% from the field and 41.6% from the three-point range.
Jokic, also Embiid's competition, is another centre dominating the league now. However, as the Denver Nuggets are placed seventh in the Western Conference, Embiid with the top-seeded 76ers might have more chances of winning the award.
Ben Simmons, who had 17 points against the Jazz, is also in line for the Defensive Player of the year award.
"Those are the matchups you want to dominate and prove we have a great team," Embiid said after their win over the league-leading Jazz. "I want to dominate on the offensive end but mainly on the defensive end".
Donovan Mitchell had 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists for the Jazz, who have now lost two games in a row. Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 18 each. Mitchell was ejected when 30.8 seconds were remaining. "I'm never ever one to blame the refs, but this is getting out of hand," he said, adding that they are constantly getting 'screwed'. "It's really, really, really getting out of hand. The league needs to do something about this".
James Harden, leading the Brooklyn Nets while Kevin Durant is sidelined, is averaging 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 11.1 assists. In his return to Houston, posting 29 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists – this eighth triple-double since his trade in January. Harden was 10th on the MVP ladder as of February 26.