After leading the Philadelphia 76ers into one of the best records in the league last season behind his most complete season yet, Joel Embiid finally clinched his first Most Valuable Player award, besting the likes of Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo for the illustrious hardware.
Only few in the history of the association has ever won back-to-back MVP awards, though. Can Embiid be a new member of that exclusive club next season?
What are the chances of the Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid repeating as MVP next season?
The Most Valuable Player award, perhaps more so than any other plum, tends to be a primarily narrative-driven accomplishment. That’s not to discount those who have been the MVP, but there will always be legitimate arguments for the award that tend to be glossed over in favor of these so-called narratives.
First, voter’s fatigue is real. Jokic deservedly bagged the award in back-to-back seasons, but aside from that, it took a lot of convincing from both the eye test and the pundits for him to even sniff it. Heck, the man who did the same before him, Stephen Curry, retained a lot of brow-raisers despite winning MVP in consecutive dominant seasons individually and as a team.
Unfortunately for Embiid, the primordial narrative that will surround him next season, frankly, is his less than stellar postseason run last season, at least according to his naysayers. Of course, the MVP trophy is a regular season award, but then again, narratives are unfiltered and frustratingly malleable enough to fit a preference.
Another reason that could affect Embiid’s chances at repeating as MVP is that the 76ers are widely expected to decline this season following all that has transpired over the offseason. The East continues to be a more well-rounded and stronger conference than before, and Philadelphia will undoubtedly have a stronger competition this season from the East alone.
Registering an inferior win-loss card next season would instantly sap Embiid’s chances unless, like Jokic in 2021-22 and Russell Westbrook in 2016-17, he manages to lead a ragtag team to the postseason with a historically great individual season. At this rate, the 76ers aren’t really that unremarkable as a collective to bank on such to make Embiid shine even brighter individually.
Honestly speaking, the smart bet (if you’re the kind to hop on Vegas) is to put the money on the field against Joel Embiid winning MVP next season. After all, and perhaps more importantly, it would be a tough sell to expect the Philadelphia 76ers to surpass last season’s finish as currently constructed in their fragmented and uncertain state barring a meaningful resolution.