Joel Embiid Can Still Receive Elite NBA Honors Without MVP Award
Despite my best efforts in making the case for Joel Embiid to be the winner of this season NBA MVP award, all signs point to the voters giving the covet award to Denver Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic. Not that Jokic is not deserving of consideration to win the trophy, but as I have stated in my case for Embiid, it feels like "The Joker" is being awarded for not missing as many games as Embiid did this season.
But there is still away for Joel Embiid to be recognized for his elite level of play this season. The NBA has made new stipulations for those voting for the All-NBA Teams this season with the league now allowing for Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic to be eligible to be voted for as a Forward or Center. Similar to the NBA All-Star voting which is now the broad position designations of Backcourt and Frontcourt players, the All-NBA Team voting is taking a similar direction.
Washington Post National NBA Writer and author of the new book "Bubbleball: Inside the NBA's Fight to Save a Season", Ben Golliver joined GameNight on Thursday and explained how this would work in Joel Embiid's favor:
"You can actually list (Nikola) Jokic and (Joel) Embiid at either Forward or Center when you are filling out your (All-NBA) Ballot - To me, in this kind of a situation, if the NBA will let you vote Embiid as a Forward, you should vote him onto the First Team if you are an All-NBA voter. He's been one of the five best players this season in terms of his overall production; He's had one of five best season despite that injury. I think it would be appropriate to award both (Embiid) and Jokic with First Team All-NBA Selections. Now Jokic is my (NBA) MVP pick but...to me having Embiid on a Second (ALL-NBA) Team where he is in a situation where he might finish second in (NBA) MVP voting, that would just feel weird. So I really do hope people reward (Embiid) with (All-NBA) First team votes."
Heading into action on Friday Night, Joel Embiid is Third in the NBA in Points Per Game (29.1), Tenth in Rebounds Per Game (10.8), Second in Player Efficiency Rating (30.6), and has the Fourth best Defensive Rating (104.0). So if Embiid finishes second in NBA MVP Voting, his resume for the 2020-21 season is not a player who should be named to All-NBA Second Team. That is definitely the resume for a player who should be recognized as a First Team All-NBA Superstar.
Like the NBA MVP Award, the All-NBA First Team is an honor reserved for only the best players in the league and for many players there are bonuses built into their contracts for achieving this rarified honors. When discussing the best players in the NBA today, Joel Embiid is always in the conversation and he has performed as one of the top five players in the league this season. Even though Embiid missed 19 games due to injury and COVID-19 Health/Safety Protocols, he still played at a high level on the court, elevating the 76ers to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
So yes, Embiid may not get to join the exclusive club of NBA MVP Award winners this season, but getting named to the All-NBA First Team would be a worthy consolation prize for the 27 year old centerpiece of the 76ers franchise. Maybe if Embiid leads the Sixers to the NBA Finals, that may change how some people perceive him and open doors for his MVP Candidacy heading into next season.
Checkout my full conversation with National NBA Writer Ben Golliver about the Sixers standing in the Eastern Conference, perspective on the Brooklyn Nets, and his new book "Bubbleball: Inside the NBA's Fight to Save a Season":