Last season, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid came back better than ever after a disappointing first-round sweep in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. As he got in the best shape of his life, Embiid reached a new level of excellence on the court during the 2020-2021 NBA season.
Spending roughly 31 minutes on the court per game, Embiid beat out his career-high average of 27 points per game by notching 28 points per game. From beyond the arc, he was one of Philly's most efficient shooters, knocking down 38-percent of his threes. From the field, he hit on 51-percent of his shots -- also a career-high.
Not to mention, Embiid remained one of the best defensive players in the league as well. Overall, his spectacular 2020-2021 season did not go unnoticed. When the regular season was all said and done, Embiid was recognized as the NBA's MVP runner-up, second to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
Now that he's received a significant amount of votes for the Most Valuable Player award in 2020-2021, where does Embiid stand in the early 2021-2022 MVP race in the eyes of NBA General Managers across the league?
John Schuhmann of NBA.com recently surveyed GMs on a wide range of topics. When getting into specific awards, GMs cast their too early votes on who they believe could win the Most Valuable Player award at the end of the upcoming regular season. As expected, Embiid was in the conversation, receiving votes.
Seven percent of NBA GMs voted for Embiid. That places him fourth overall, tied with Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden. Right in front of Embiid is the former MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Then comes Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic finishing with Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant, who received 37-percent of the votes.
What's keeping Embiid from receiving more votes? His injury concerns most likely. Had Embiid played more than 51 games last season, he probably would've beaten out Jokic for the MVP award. Unfortunately, he missed chunks of games throughout the year, which swayed voters to choose Jokic instead.
Relying on Embiid to stay healthy and on the floor is a tall task for the Sixers. While he's absolutely one of the most dominant players in the game, the big man has struggled to stay healthy for a majority of the seasons throughout his career.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.