When Daryl Morey was asked if Joel Embiid will win MVP on his Instagram Q&A, he stated that the 76ers will have “two good shots at MVP this year” with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
The confidence that Morey has in not only Joel Embiid but also Ben Simmons is very encouraging and gives a lot of excitement for the upcoming season.
So for Joel Embiid, what would it take from him to have a legitimate chance at the award this season?
Top 3 Seed in the East
Out of the last 10 MVPs, only one saw his team finish outside of the top 2 in their conference standings. That was Russell Westbrook in 2016-17, who averaged a triple-double for his 6th seed OKC Thunder.
With the top of the Eastern Conference potentially getting stronger with the healthy Brooklyn Nets and the Bucks adding Jrue Holiday, a top 3 seed for the Sixers would be seen as a really strong season. The Bucks, Heat, Celtics, Nets, and potentially the Raptors all figure to compete for a top seed in the conference. If the Sixers can outperform three of those teams in the regular season, Joel Embiid would have a strong foundation for an MVP case.
Play At Least 62 Games
Health is always the biggest concern for Joel Embiid entering a season and in the past has limited the recognition he may deserve for end-of-season awards. Last season, Giannis Antetokounmpo played in 63 out of 73 regular-season games for the Bucks or 86%. That was the lowest percentage of games played by an MVP winner in the last decade.
If Joel Embiid plays 86% of the regular season games for the Sixers, that will put him at 62 games played.
Joel will definitely miss some time throughout the season, but with a shortened schedule each game matters, even more, this year than a standard season. For Joel Embiid to be considered for an MVP award, he will at the very least need to shoot for 62 games played.
Outperform Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic
For Joel Embiid to win MVP, he needs to make All NBA First Team, and in order to do that, he will need to clearly show that he is the best center in the league. Embiid made All NBA second team in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Last year he didn’t make any of the All NBA teams and has already discussed that during training camp this year.
While Joel Embiid has been great ever since he stepped on an NBA court, there’s still one more small jump he needs to make in order to clearly position himself as the best center in the league.
Win Shares/48 Minutes above .250
The Win Shares per 48 minutes statistic shows an estimate of the number of wins contributed by an individual player per 48 minutes of game time. In the last decade, only two players have had WS/48 below .250. Russell Westbrook had a WS/48 of .224 in 2016-17 and Derrick Rose had .208 in 2010-11.
For perspective, Joel Embiid’s career-high in win shares per 48 was .194 in 2018-19.
A healthy Embiid with an abundance of shooting around him will certainly provide him an opportunity to raise his advanced stats and further the perception of his value.
It’s always been clear that a lot has to go right in one season for Joel Embiid to have a legit shot at winning MVP. Daryl Morey expects Joel to be in that conversation by the end of the season, and though it’s not an easy road there, fans should have similar expectations.
We all know that the Philadelphia 76ers will only go as far as their two stars take them, but this year may be the best Joel Embiid has been set up to dominate the league in his career.
Expectations are rightfully high for him this season, and only time will tell if Joel Embiid can put himself in the MVP discussion.
Featured Image: NBAE/Getty Images Statistics: basketball-reference.com