Sixers MVP ladder: Is Joel Embiid the early-season favorite?

Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Sixers may have the MVP frontrunner in Joel Embiid.

We are over a month into the 2020-21 NBA season, and Joel Embiid is playing the best basketball of his career. The 7-footer is averaging 28.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 31.8 minutes. He is shooting 58.8 percent from the field, 42.3 percent from deep, and 84.3 percent on 11.2 free throws per game. Absurdity.

Embiid is re-staking the claim of elite big men in the NBA, hand-in-hand with Nuggets center Nikola Jokic — arguably Embiid’s most formidable competition in the 2021 MVP race. Embiid has been effective against just about every defensive coverage. He’s bullying single-team defense, and exploiting double teams more efficiently than ever.

Here is a look at the early MVP ladder.

Honorable mentions: Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo

NBA MVP ladder #5: Kevin Durant

The strongest argument against Kevin Durant is probably his teammates. He shares the floor with James Harden and Kyrie Irving, two of this generation’s most individually gifted scorers. That will probably work against him in the MVP race.

That said, Durant’s numbers are impossible to refute. He’s averaging 30.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 53.3 percent shooting. He’s drilling 45.5 percent of his 3s, and has been surgical in his dismantling of NBA defenses at every level this season. He is back to his old self.

Brooklyn can’t defend a swinging door right now, but the Nets’ offense alone makes them favorites in the Eastern Conference — if not flat-out championship favorites. Durant will need to keep his historic scoring numbers up next to two elite perimeter scorers, but if anyone is capable of doing so, it’s probably Kevin Durant.