Sixers Center Joel Embiid has been off to an unbelievable first half of the NBA 2021 season, highlighted by a 50 point game against the Chicago Bulls and being named to his 4th consecutive all-star game.

Joel Embiid currently has career highs in, field goal percentage (.547), free throw attempts (9.9), and percentage (.853) of course points per game (30.5). The team’s big man is on pace to break a ton of Sixers records and likely multiple NBA records if he continues at this pace.

There is no question Embiid has been masterful, and perhaps as dominant as any Philadelphia athlete in the 2000’s, but there is something about Joel Embiid that may affect his MVP campaign.

Embiid misses too many games, and this is not something new. Embiid has never played more than 64 games in a season, and with a shortened season this year, it is extremely unlikely that he hits that mark this year.

Embiid stands at 7’ and weighs 280 lb, so his ability to move like a point guard given his size is what makes him truly unbelievable to watch. However, for all of Joel Embiid’s greatness and ability, the best ability is availability and Embiid is not always available as he has missed 6 of the team’s 30 games already this season.

This is not to discredit Embiid in the slightest, but his “load management” is something that should absolutely be taken into consideration when talking about his potential MVP campaign. Especially because those included in the MVP conversation are players like LeBron James (31/31 games played), Nikola Jokic (29/29 games played), and Damian Lillard (28/30 games played).

Embiid’s availability, or lack thereof, is both helped and hurt by the fact that the Sixers as a whole look like a completely different team without their all-star starter on the floor. The team is 1-5 without Embiid and 19-5 with him, bringing back haunting memories of the Sixers at home versus on the road last season.

As the Sixers look to make a finals run this season, they will first need to solidify a top spot in the Eastern Conference and it’s not certain that they can do that without Joel Embiid in the starting lineup. The signing of Dwight Howard has not exactly planned out like Daryl Morey and company had hoped and the Sixers seem to have limited offensive options when Embiid isn’t on the court.

Gone are the days of the front office’s management of Joel Embiid’s workload, Embiid is obviously in his physical prime and should be allowed to play until he himself does not want to play.

All of Philadelphia is on board with the Joel Embiid 2021 MVP Campaign, but the load management has got to stop. The time to win is now, so let Jo be Jo.

Photo via Sports Illustrated

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