“My goal going into the offseason was to get better. I want to win the MVP. I feel like at the end of the day it might be an individual award, but when I play better, the team also does. I feel like if I’m an MVP candidate or if I win the MVP, that means we are on another level.”
The words of one Joel Embiid, in a Yahoo Sports article published during the offseason.
These remarks gave a glimpse into his mindset going into the 2018-19 season. He wanted to reach a higher level than ever before and so far he’s started on the right path. Last season’s playoffs disappointment might have sparked something great in him, as he’s been the most aggressive player in the league and very few players have kept up the same intensity in the first nine games of the season.
To many, Embiid is the best center in the league and few would bet against that notion given his hot start to this season. Embiid is, arguably, one of the best five players in the league given his consistent level of All-Star-grade performances. He is a polarizing figure off the court who has shown no signs of slowing down.
Not many players dominate numerous statistical categories like he does—he,s in the top five of five different stats. The Philadelphia 76ers center is the third-highest scorer in the league in terms of total points, having amassed 257 so far. He is also the second-highest scorer of 2-point field goals with 78 so far, according to basketballreference.com.
The African phenomenon is also fourth in the rebounding stats with 107 boards so far—this includes 83 defensive rebounds (a sub-category where he’s ranked second). The blocks category is another statistical division wherein he is a top-ranked player, having recorded the second-best blocks tally with 21 so far.
Embiid is leading all centers in scoring with an average of 28.6 points per game, while also averaging 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. To demonstrate how dominant he has been, the young Sixers center has recorded 30-plus points in five games so far. He also posted an impressive 41 points against the Los Angeles Clippers (including 24 in the first half).
Judging by his early form he could and should be set for another All-Star nod. He’s also displaying early signs of a player ready to challenge for the MVP honors and the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Embiid could have a chance to rewrite the history books as no African player has won the MVP award since Hakeem Olajuwon in the 90s. He is also chasing the record of being the fifth Sixers player to win MVP honors following in the footsteps of Wilt Chamberlain, Julius ‘Dr J’ Ervin, Moses Malone and Allen Iverson.
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