MVP Watch: Joel Embiid
Last season, the Philadelphia 76ers showed us what a team they really could be. It was Ben Simmons' first official season (after missing his whole first eligible season with injury), and the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid was what the Sixers had been building towards for years. Embiid finished the 2017-2018 season averaging 22.9 PTS & 11.0 REB - in only his second season! Embiid has continued to excel into the 2018-2019 season so far.
Coming into the season, questions were raised around the Sixers. With LeBron out of the Eastern Conference, are the Sixers a true contender? Will the Sixers be able to add another piece to complement the lineup? And one of the biggest concerns - can Joel Embiid stay healthy enough to play enough games to have an impact.
In regards to the first two points, the Sixers have had their struggles (but it seems most top-ranked teams have this season), and adding Jimmy Butler has seemed to complete the lineup. But Embiid has proved all the doubters wrong so far.
Embiid has currently played 27 of the Sixers 28 games, and in those 27 games, he has played an average of 34.3 minutes per game this is up compared to last season, where he only played a total of 63 out of 82 games, and only played an average of 30.3 minutes per game. Not only has Embiid seemed to improve his stamina, but his numbers have also increased. He currently averages 26.3 PTS, 13.1 REB, 3.6 ASS and a huge 2.0 BLKS.
Although his form has been outstanding, Embiid needs to ensure a few things if he wants to be truly considered for MVP. He needs to ensure his body is kept in check, and that he stays on the court.
The more games he plays, the more he can shine like the star that he is. The other thing Embiid needs to ensure is that he stays happy with his teammates. The Addition of Jimmy Butler has helped the Sixers so far, but his presence has seemed to be a divisive one, and if friction starts to develop between Butler and Embiid then it will not bode well for the team's success, and in turn Embiid's success. As long as Embiid can stay healthy, happy and continue to dominate he will be in line for an MVP, come to the conclusion of the season.