Last week, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid surpassed Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James on the Kia MVP Ladder by NBA.com. His ability to grab the top spot was a combination of consecutive dominant performances and LeBron's slight but noticeable struggles as the Lakers are without Anthony Davis.
At this point, LeBron saw another dip as he's been surpassed by Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic for this week's rankings. Embiid, however, has gone nowhere. Another strong string of performances by Embiid keeps him on top.
On Wednesday night, the Sixers wrapped up their first half of the season with an overtime win over the Utah Jazz. Embiid, to no surprise, dominated the competition as he had a 40-point, 19-rebound performance in 39 minutes of action over the Western Conference's top team.
Not only did he close out the first half of the season with a strong solo performance, but his seasonal averages through his first 30 games are quite impressive. Overall, Embiid is averaging 30 points and 11 rebounds while shooting a career-high of 52-percent from the field and 41-percent from three.
Following his team's win over the Jazz, Embiid made it apparent that he understands he can only truly become the league's most valuable player as long as his personal success leads to team-wide success. At the All-Star break, the big man is averaging career-high numbers while his team sits first place in the Eastern Conference.
NBA.com's Michael C. Wright acknowledged the Sixers big man's dominance last week when he placed Embiid at the top for the first time this year. After another solid string of performances by Embiid, Wright sees no reason to make any changes at the top as Embiid continues to dominate.
"Embiid’s got the right idea here. “I keep going back to the same thing: you can’t be in those conversations without winning,” he said. “Right now, we’re winning, we’re first in the East, we beat the best team in the league.” Embiid worked the Jazz inside Wednesday to the beat of the 76ers outscoring them 64-44 in the paint in a game they trailed by as many as 13 points. Embiid put up 40 or more in two of his last three games. Philadelphia owns a record of 6-1 this season when Embiid scores 38 or more."
It's simple; when Joel Embiid is on the floor for the 76ers, they can take down anybody. Sure, he's not unstoppable -- but he's somewhere close to that this season. Meanwhile, when Embiid's off the floor, the Sixers are still a good team.
But they struggle to close out games with victories as they miss his dominance. The good news is Embiid seems to be healthier than ever this season as he's only dealt with minor setbacks here and there. As long as he can remain available without any notable injuries keeping him out, Embiid is in good shape to win the league's top honor.