Joel Embiid, center for the Philadelphia 76ers, defeated Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Joki to become the first player to ever win the Michael Jordan Trophy.
Joel Embiid scored 73 first-place votes and 915 total points from the 100-member media voting panel, making him the runner-up for the third time in four seasons.
In the most contentious MVP race since Russell Westbrook upset James Harden in 2017, he just edged out Jokic (15 first-place votes and 674 total points).
By receiving 12 first-place votes and a total of 606 points, Antetokounmpo placed third. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics rounded out the top five in MVP voting.
Witness the 76ers’ Reaction to Joel Embiid’s NBA MVP Win: Watch the Excitement Unfold
Joel Embiid’s Impressive Regular Season: A Look at his Stats, MVP Win, and Historic Achievement
During the regular season, Embiid was a major factor despite the fact that Joki had the edge in advanced statistics for the third year in a row and Antetokounmpo is widely considered to be the best player in the NBA.
His 33.1 ppg (on 55/33/86 shooting splits) was the most by a center since Bob McAdoo’s 34.5 ppg (1975 MVP season) as he once again led the league in scoring. Embiid averaged 34.6 minutes per game, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.7 blocks/steals.
Only Bill Walton played fewer games than Embiid did (66) in a season where he was named MVP. Though the Sixers only won 43 games with Embiid in the lineup this year, their offensive (119.0) and defensive (110.2) ratings were first and second in the league if averaged over a full season.
The 7-foot Cameroonian is the second African-born player in NBA history, behind Hakeem Olajuwon, to be named Most Valuable Player. Embiid is the sixth player not born in the United States to receive the award, following in the footsteps of Olajuwon, Steve Nash, Antetokounmpo, and Joki, all of whom have won it twice.
The previous five league MVP awards have all gone to players from outside the United States, and for the second year in a row, the top three vote-getters are all foreign nationals.
The Race for NBA MVP: Embiid vs Joki, ESPN Polls, and Controversial Remarks
ESPN conducted a straw poll showing that Joki had a significant lead in the voting for MVP.
Former player and current analyst Kendrick Perkins awkwardly discussed race in MVP voting, accusing Joki of “stat-padding” and questioning whether he is a top-five player in the NBA. Redick argued to the contrary.
By the end of March, Embiid had taken the lead in ESPN’s straw poll thanks to his aggressive campaign for the award and Joki’s indifference down the stretch of the regular season. Vincent Goodwill and Dan Devine, senior writers at Yahoo Sports, voted for Embiid.
The third-seeded Sixers, led by Joel Embiid, swept the first-round playoff series against the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets. He could not play in the Sixers’ 119-115 second-round victory against the Celtics and Game 4 of their first-round series. According to reports, he may not be able to play in Game 2.
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