The Athletic declared former Kansas Jayhawks forward Joel Embiid a leading candidate for the 2021 NBA MVP award in a story released Tuesday.
Embiid, a 7-footer for the Philadelphia 76ers, has led the Sixers to the top of the Eastern Conference, putting them in position to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown and the franchise’s first berth in the NBA Finals since the Allen Iverson era.
Athletic writer Derek Bodner wrote the piece, which included quotes from teammate Ben Simmons and 76ers general manager Daryl Morey. The latter provided a quote that, Bodner wrote, spoke to the improvement in Embiid’s production this season.
“Joel is in the rare group of players in NBA history where most of the time, when you watch him, you are wondering if there is a higher level basketball league he can be promoted to, as he is an unfair advantage in this league.”
Bodner dove into the different analytics and drivers of Embiid’s MVP candidacy, but his overall numbers after 24 games were eye-popping, as he was averaging a double-double — 29.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. He also had averages of 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocked shots. His shooting hash — 55.3/39.0/85.0 — is enviable for a big man.
Embiid has played his entire career with Philadelphia, but his career in the NBA started in doubt after he missed each of his first two seasons after surgery on a broken navicular bone in his right foot and a slow recovery. Even with the injury, Embiid was the No. 3 overall player taken in the 2014 NBA Draft.
In just one season at Kansas, Embiid played his way into the conversation for the Naismith Player of the Year award as he averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots per game. He earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, along with All-Big 12 Second-Team honors, before declaring early for the NBA Draft after his freshman year.
Embiid played at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, which lately produced Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard. Send him a tweet with your question to be included in this week’s Big 12 Basketball Mailbag, which appears each Friday during the conference season.
**Want to win a $20 gift card? Go sign up here and join our conversation! The best poster each week wins a gift card to your favorite establishment!**