The NBA MVP race has seemingly been a close one between Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Several people reported last week that they’d heard that Embiid would be presented with the MVP trophy ahead of Game 3 of the Sixers’ series against the Miami Heat. That didn’t come to pass, though. And now, a more reliable source in ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Embiid won’t receive that award at all, with it instead going to Jokic (seen above in March):
ESPN Sources: Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic voted the NBA’s MVP for a second consecutive season https://t.co/qN5VI0N96Q
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 9, 2022
That’s a contrast to what we saw last week. One of the reports last week came from Anthony Gargano, a Philadelphia radio host on 97.5 WIP, who made it quite clear how he felt about who deserved this award in his tweet:
Hearing justice will be served tonight … @JoelEmbiid will be awarded the MVP trophy, then jump center @sixers in Game 3 #playthesong #Sixers
— Anthony Gargano (@AnthonyLGargano) May 6, 2022
At least Gargano was one for two here; Embiid did in fact play in that game despite a previous concussion and orbital fracture that, along with a previously-torn thumb ligament, had him listed as out indefinitely. But he did not receive the MVP trophy there. And while Gargano wasn’t the only one to make that claim of a Friday presentation, at least he left his tweet up. One verified Twitter user who did not is FoxSports.com topics editor Justin Morris; here’s a screenshot of what he said.
Morris did hedge there with a “by all accounts,” but yes, if those NBA representatives were there, it was not to ceremoniously announce a MVP award for Embiid. And Morris subsequently deleted that tweet without a follow-up or a correction. (But not before Crossing Broad’s Kevin Kinkead wrote it up as “Some Guy is Reporting that the NBA will “Ceremoniously Announce” Joel Embiid as MVP.”)
It’s understandable why there’s been a heated debate about which of these players will win the MVP. Jokic, the reigning MVP, had a season even better than his 2020-21 campaign, posting career highs of 27.1 points and 13.8 rebounds per game and adding 7.8 assists per game (eighth in the league). He also became the first player in NBA history to post 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a single season, and his case is further bolstered by advanced stats like PER (he posted a 32.8 to Embiid’s 31.2). Meanwhile, Embiid had higher scoring numbers, recording his own career-high of 30.6 points per game and adding 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. And his team was slightly better (51-31 in the regular season versus 48-34, still alive in the second round versus the Nuggets’ first-round elimination), for those who like to factor team results into individual awards. There are arguments for both players (although, not ones that Embiid “had the most 40/10 games in history” or that “the standard for guys in Philly is different than everyone else“), and that’s part of why there’s been so much attention on this and so many people looking to report who would get it and when. Even if those reports weren’t true.
At any rate, Wojnarowski’s report is still not an official announcement. But, given his reporting reputation, that seems much more likely to be correct than the reports we saw last week.
[ESPN; photo from Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports]