We are witnessing what could be one of the best single-season performances in the history of Philadelphia pro sports. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been playing at a historic level over the past two months, almost single-handedly keeping the Sixers in playoff contention.
People have taken notice. For example, at BetMGM Sportsbook, Joel Embiid’s MVP odds have gone from +3000 on the 15th to +225 or better as of the 31st.
- Jan 15: +3000
- Jan 19: +1200
- Jan 20: +900
- Jan 24: +500
- Jan 26: +325
- Jan 28: +260
- Jan 31: +225
Joel Embiid MVP Odds – Look Who’s On Top
Here are the current numbers on Embiid at the leading sports betting apps in PA:
The team has seen injuries and COVID has decimated the lineup, while #1 overall pick Ben Simmons continues to sit out in hopes of a trade. Embiid has somehow managed to elevate his game and help develop the team’s young talent.
Watching him night after night is like a highly-skilled artist on the highest stage. If there was some way to combine the tear-inducing beauty of Pavarotti’s voice with the physical aspect of Bret Hart in his WWF run, that might be the closest analogy we can make to what #21 does night in, night out.
Joel Embiid is the Best Player in the NBA
Shaquille O’Neal and former 76ers legend and current NBA Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, both agree:
“That man right there is playing better basketball than anybody in the world.” – Charles Barkley
“The baddest guy in the league right now is Joel Embiid.” – Shaq
This season, he has averaged 28.9 points per game, along with 4.3 assists, both career highs. The play goes beyond the quantitative. He is a big man who can bang inside, shoot the mid-range, and fire from outside.
The biggest knock against Embiid has been his availability. Last year he finished second to Nikola Jokic in Denver.
Voters penalized him for the injuries and “load management” games he skipped. This season, without Simmons, Embiid has been in 37 of 49 games, with his longest absence linked to COVID-19 in November.
Of course, it helps when LeBron James sits out a game and doesn’t run the risk of undercutting Embiid on a dunk like he did last year in Philly, which cost the center some games in 2021.
Embiid got that receipt, don’t worry fam.
Against the Los Angeles Lakers, Embiid had a poor shooting night (9-20) and even missed five free throw attempts. However, he finished with seven assists, the most since he had seven against San Antonio. He’s become a facilitator, which has helped the development of second-year guard Tyrese Maxey, along with other role players.
What happens to Embiid’s MVP odds now that we’re in the era in NBA when every superstar i practicing load management?
Only time will tell.
What’s Next for Embiid and the Sixers?
While the Sixers are fifth in the East, they’ve tied with the Brooklyn Nets for tops in the Atlantic and only two games behind the Miami Heat for first in the conference. This is going to be a wild finish after the All-Star Break. If Embiid stays healthy, the Sixers can easily gain ground, win a second division crown, and certainly make a run. If he stays healthy, he will certainly earn the MVP award.
When (or if) he does win, it will be the third time a Philly basketball player has won MVP in the same twelve-month span as another athlete in town did as well. In 1960, Wilt Chamberlain won as a Warrior, followed by Eagles QB Norm Van Brocklin sweeping the NFL MVP rankings (there were multiple awards given out by various groups at that time) following the team’s third league championship. Mike Schmidt won consecutive National League MVP honors in 1980 and 1981, bookending Julius Erving’s award in 1981. Could Joel join his buddy Bryce Harper in that rare pantheon?
Featured image credit: Adam Hunger – AP