The Philadelphia 76ers have known just how dominant of a player Joel Embiid is ever since they drafted him out of Kansas years ago. And ever since Embiid debuted for the team, his production and skillset never disappointed.

This year, though, Embiid is playing on an entirely different level. Over the last three seasons, he's been an All-Star caliber player. In 2020-2021, he's MVP caliber. Heading into the All-Star break back in early March, Embiid was viewed as the MVP favorite on many publications.

But a recent setback might've damaged his chances of actually winning the award at the end of the year. A bruised knee forced Embiid to miss ten-straight games. Before that, he had already missed seven games due to back and knee issues. In total, Embiid has missed 18 games, which many consider being enough to keep him out of the Most Valuable Player conversation due to a lack of availability.

However, Embiid's fellow All-Star teammate Ben Simmons believes otherwise. Sure, Embiid's setbacks have kept him off the floor, but when he's in the game, the big man is so dominant that it's hard to find a reason why he shouldn't be MVP this year.

“I don’t think teams really know what to do when guarding him,” Ben Simmons said on Friday night. “I think he’s clearly the MVP this season. He’s been so dominant and consistent this whole year, and he’s been healthy, which has been great for us. So, I don’t know how to stop him.”

Simmons' most recent comments came after the Sixers picked up a win at home against the Los Angeles Clippers. While the all-around team effort from the shorthanded Sixers was solid, Embiid was once again Philly's standout as he collected 36 points in 35 minutes of action. 

Embiid is averaging 30 points per game at this point in the year while draining his shots at a career-high of 51-percent from the field and 37-percent from deep. Playing in only 38 games at this point in the year might affect how voters view Embiid's status as the most valuable player in the NBA, but the star center and his teammates still believe he deserves the trophy.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_ & Instagram: @JGrassoNBA.