Joel Embiid wants to be MVP and Defensive Player of the Year

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

On an ESPN podcast, Joel Embiid said he believes he should win the NBA’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Joel Embiid is nothing if not confident. It’s why his trademark celebration is raising his arms in front of the crowd, Gladiator-style, as if to ask: “Are you not entertained?”

The Philadelphia 76ers has no doubt been dominant when he’s been on the court this season, and hopping on an episode of The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, he did not shy away from his thoughts about the NBA‘s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year races.

In fact, he believes he should win both awards.

“I’ve been dominant all season,” Embiid said when asked about MVP. “When I get the ball, it’s either a foul or a bucket. I feel like I’m right there.”

And when the topic of Defensive Player of the Year award came up, “The Process” didn’t hesitate there either.

“I want to be the Defensive Player of the Year,” he said. “I should be the Defensive Player of the Year.”

Joel Embiid wants to win both MVP and DPOY

In 37 games for the Sixers this season, Embiid has averaged a career-high 29.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. He’s shot 51.6 percent from the floor, made a career-best 38.9 percent of his 3-pointers and most importantly, has led Philly to a 38-17 record, the best mark in the Eastern Conference.

However, he’ll face stiff competition in both awards categories from fellow centers out West, especially when availability comes into the debate. Despite Embiid’s dominance this season, Nikola Jokic has been equally dominant and also has the advantage of playing in far more games. JoJo has missed 18 games so far in this shortened, 72-game season, while Jokic hasn’t missed a single one.

The 76ers have a better record, but it’s honestly not by that much; the Denver Nuggets are only three games worse that Philly and play in a tougher conference.

To be fair, Embiid said in the podcast that if he doesn’t win MVP, he’d prefer “that kid in Denver” does so a big man wins the award. Embiid vs. Jokic was a great MVP debate early in the season, but with the Sixers star missing so much time, it’ll be hard for him to get the edge on the Joker, who’s been sensational and very deserving.

That same argument could apply to DPOY, where Rudy Gobert has been the anchor for the NBA’s fourth-best defense with the Utah Jazz. He’s second in the league in blocks (2.9 per game) and is also chipping in 1.6 steals per game for good measure. It’s also somewhat telling how valuable he is to that top-five defense, since Utah’s defensive rating plummets from 102.1 with him on the court to a team-worst 111.6 whenever he sits.

The Sixers have the NBA’s second-ranked defense, but as great as Embiid has been on that end of the floor, he doesn’t quite have the same block or steal numbers, and Philadelphia’s defense doesn’t rely on him as heavily. Their 105.0 defensive rating with him on the court only dips to 106.4 when he rests, which has been a considerable amount of time considering he’s played less than 50 percent of his team’s minutes this season.

Gobert, on the other hand, has played all 56 games for the Jazz, logging nearly 65 percent of his team’s minutes.

That’s not to say Embiid is undeserving of consideration for either award, but more than likely, the amount of games he’s missed will be enough to convince voters to place him second, third or even lower on their ballots.

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