Philadelphia 76ers early season trends: Real or fake?

Tobias Harris | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Tobias Harris | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

What about the Philadelphia 76ers is sustainable and what has been a mirage through 19 games of the season?

Just over a quarter-way into the season, the Philadelphia 76ers are first in the Eastern Conference with a 13-6 record. At this point last season, the Sixers were… 13-6. The 2019-20 Sixers actually made it to 20-7 before going 23-23 over their last 46 games. Some early Sixers trends held up, but other aspects dropped as the sample size grew. Let’s take a look at some early trends from this season and predict what is sustainable or fake.

Sixers trend #1: Joel Embiid as MVP — FAKE

This really hurts to type and has nothing to do with Embiid’s stellar play this season. Embiid is arguably the MVP favorite after last night’s dominating performance against the Lakers. However, Embiid has two clear holes in his MVP candidacy going forward.

First, Embiid has only played in 79 percent of the Sixers’ games. The lowest percent of games played by an MVP winner in the past 20 seasons was 86 percent (Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2020) and for the most part, MVPs have played in over 95 percent of the team’s games. Embiid probably won’t get close to that number this season, which makes sense given Embiid’s injury history and how much the team needs him to be healthy come playoff time.

Second, MVP winners are usually on a top-three regular season team. This will come up later in the article, but it is unlikely that the Sixers finish that high in the regular season. While on the court, Embiid is playing as well as any player in the NBA, but because of these two reasons, Embiid will fall short of the award.