For some reason LeBron James is the runaway favourite for MVP this year and yet, when you take a closer look at their respective seasons so far, Joel Embiid has been more valuable and it isn’t particularly close.

This is not an argument against LeBron being the best player in the league, after his performance in the bubble last year he should be considered the league’s top dog until someone proves otherwise in the post-season. The MVP award is not about who is considered to be the best player however, it is given to the player who is most valuable to their team over the course of the regular season.

There is still a long way to go in this current season and things change fast but as of right now Joel Embiid should be the front-runner for Most Valuable Player and here’s why:

The Stats.

Joel Embiid: 29.7 points per game 10.8 rebounds per game 3.1 assists per game 1.3 steals per game 1.2 blocks per game with 3.4 turnovers per game while shooting 54% on field goals including 39% from three as well as 85% on free throws at 11.3 free throw attempts per game.

LeBron James: 25.9 ppg 8.2 rpg 7.9 apg 1.0 spg 0.5 bpg and 3.7 topg. James is shooting 50% from the field, 37% on three pointers and 70% from the line on 6.0 free throws per game.

Embiid is leading James in every traditional statistic category except for assists. Joel also leads LeBron in most major advanced stat categories, including Player Efficiency Rating (30.8 to24.4), true shooting percentage (.661 to .601) win shares per 48 minutes (.273 to .199) and box plus minus 7.9 to 7.3).

The biggest case for James statistically is in games played. LeBron has played in 30 games so far compared to Joel’s 24, if Embiid continues to miss games while James continues to play there may be no argument come season’s end.

Stats taken from and do not include Philadelphia’s game Friday against the Bulls. After the Bulls game Embiid’s points per game average rose to 30.5.

Photo: Bill Streicher/ USA Today Sports

Team Impact.

The Sixers have 19 wins and 5 losses in games Joel Embiid plays in comparison to 1 win and 5 losses when Embiid is out.

LeBron James has played every game for a Lakers team with 22 wins and 8 losses this season.

Both players have their teams looking like title contenders when they are on the court while both the Sixers and Lakers have struggled when their star players are out of the game.

Photo: Elizabeth Robertson/ Philadelphia Inquirer

Statement Games.

LeBron has had big games against lowly teams like the Cavaliers and Thunder and has also had strong performances in losses to contenders including games against the Sixers and Nets.

So far this season the only games that could be considered statements for James would be the Lakers win in Milwaukee in which LeBron scored 34 points on 52 percent shooting and a 27 point triple double for James in a home win against the Nuggets.

LeBron has 13 double doubles, 3 triple doubles, 5 games with over 30 points and 1 game with more than 40 points.

Embiid’s statement games include:

  • 45 points in a win against the Heat on 69% shooting with 16 rebounds.
  • Two wins in three days over the Celtics in which Embiid scored a combined 80 points.
  • 50 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks against the Bulls

While the Bulls may stick out as a lesser opponent the game was important for Embiid’s case because he scored almost half his team’s points, carrying a Sixers team without Ben Simmons to a much needed win after three losses in their previous four games.

Embiid has 15 double doubles including 4 games with 15+ rebounds, 11 games with 30+ points, 3 games with 40+ points and the latest game against the Bulls in which he scored a career high 50 points.

Photo: Steven M. Falk/ Philadelphia Inquirer

Head to Head.

In their only matchup this year Joel Embiid scored 28 points on 44% shooting with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Embiid shot 11 of 13 on free throws but also had 5 fouls and 4 turnovers. The Sixers were +8 in the minutes Joel Embiid was on the court.

LeBron James had 34 points in the game to go along with 7 points and 6 rebounds. James shot 54% on field goals and made 8 of 11 free throws. The Lakers were +3 with LeBron on the floor.

James had the better game statistically but the Sixers won on a last second jump shot from Tobias Harris.

Oh, and LeBron flagrant-fouled Embiid to avoid getting put on a poster that probably would have ended this discussion entirely.

The NBA has not yet announced when the Sixers and Lakers will play again this season.

Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/ NBAE via Getty Images


Joel Embiid is ahead of LeBron in many of the deciding factors for MVP. If Embiid continues to miss games then LeBron will be the obvious choice between the two but as it stands right now the only things in James’s favour are career achievements and the consensus opinion that LeBron is the best player in the league.

In the question of which of the two stars have been Most Valuable this season, the answer is Joel Embiid and it isn’t close.

Featured Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/ Getty Images

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