NBA MVP Race – Can Joel Embiid Win His First MVP?

The 2023 NBA regular season is over and it is time for us to start talking awards. The Most Valuable Player Award, known as the MVP, is the one every player craves. Joel Embiid made an angry reaction last year around this time when Nikola Jokic won his second consecutive MVP, with Embiid finishing second in the voting. This year Embiid is the front-runner and heavy favourite to finally win his first MVP.

He faces well-known foes for the NBA MVP Award though as just like in all of the last 3 years the 3 MVP Finalists that were just announced are Embiid, the winner for the past 2 years Jokic and the winner for the 2 years before that Antetokounmpo. All 3 had a historic year, and all 3 deserve the award, and yet we think there is nobody but Joel Embiid that will take it this time around. It seems the bookies agree with us as the Vegas odds for the MVP race listed below show.

Joel Embiid
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Photo by Icon Sport

NBA 2023 MVP Finalists

The 3 finalists for the NBA MVP Award were announced and here they are with their current NBA MVP Odds to win the trophy:

Joel Embiid 17/100 (1.17)

The Cameroonian giant Joel Embiid won the scoring title during the regular season with 33.1 points per game. He also averaged 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. Embiid led the Sixers to 54 wins this season, their highest tally since the Eastern Conference winning campaign 22 years ago when Alan Iverson became the last Sixer to win the NBA MVP Race.

Embiid’s case for the trophy was strengthened by 2 monstrous performances. Back in February, he obliterated his main rival and back-to-back MVP winner Nikola Jokic in a direct battle. Not only Embiid’s Sixers won against the Nuggets but Embiid scored 53 points on that night. Then just a few weeks before the end of the regular season Embiid bagged 52 points on 20 from 25 shooting against the Celtics. It seems there is no force in the world that could prevent the friendly giant to win his first-ever NBA MVP Award, an acknowledgement he badly wants.

Nikola Jokic 7/1 (8.00)

After his MVP winning 2021 and 2022 years many thought Nikola Jokic can’t get better during the 2023 NBA season. Well, the Joker proved them wrong and he continued to improve and break records this year. Jokic led his Denver Nuggets to the top spot in the Western Conference.

Jokic was very close to becoming only the third player ever to average a triple-double and the first-ever center to do so. He finished the regular season averaging 24.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists. Jokic also has by far the best shooting percentage of the 3. His FG% is 63.3 and from 3 the centre shot 38.5%.

Giannis Antetokounmpo 8/1 (9.00)

The 2-time MVP and 1-time Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t top any stat and yet he led the Bucks to the best record in the entire NBA, this without his main helper the injured Khris Middleton. Giannis dominated every minute he was on the court and he really looked like the best player out there. Yet, his stats are likely to see him miss out on this award. Ironically, considering that he is the red-hot favourite to be the Finals MVP with the Bucks seen as a sure thing of reaching them.

Giannis joined an elite club averaging 30+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists this season. He also improved his mid-range shooting and showed some progression from 3 too. However, his advanced stats when it comes to true shooting % and clutch time fall way short compared to the other 2 and this is most likely why Giannis won’t win his third MVP, not this year at least.

MVP Voting Explained

The NBA MVP Race is decided by a combination of several voting groups. All NBA head coaches pick their winner, and the media members who have alliances with NBA teams also vote, making the process biased. In the end, it usually comes down to the votes of a curated panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters from all over the US and Canada. Once they all cast their ballots the votes are counted and usually at some stage during a live TNT showing of an early NBA Playoff match the winner gets announced.

Each of the 100 members of the curated panel has 5 votes and they put in order their 5 picks. A first-place vote is worth 10 points; the second-place vote is worth 7 points; a third-place vote is worth 5 points; fourth-place is worth 3 and fifth-place is worth 1. This gives the panel huge weight in deciding the MVP, so in the end it all comes down usually to who these only 100 carefully selected journalists decide is the most valuable player.

NBA MVP Award History

The NBA introduced the NBA MVP Award first during the 1955-56 season. It has been awarded ever since and yet no player has won it more than 6 times.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only player in history with 6 NBA MVP Awards. Bill Russell and Michael Jordon follow suit with 5 each. Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James have 4 each. Moses Malone, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson have 3 each. Then follow a group of 7 players that are 2-time MVP winners, among them Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the winner for the past 2 years Nikola Jokic.

Steph Curry back in 2015/16 is the only player ever to win the NBA MVP Race unanimously. The first non-American player to be given the NBA MVP Award was the Nigerian centre Hakeem Olajuwon back in 1993-94. The award didn’t get to a European until the German centre Dirk Nowitzki received it in 2006-07 and yet the last 4 years it had been all European winners with Giannis winning 2 in a row, followed by Jokic’s back-to-back triumphs.

In terms of teams, Boston Celtics lead the way with 10 NBA MVP Awards given to their players. However, the last Celtic to win it was Bird way back in 1985-86. LA Lakers follow suit with 8 awards. Kobe Bryant received the last in 2007-08. Tied for third are the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers with 6 MVP Awards each. So, if as expected Embiid wins the NBA MVP Race this year the Sixers will get the outright third spot.


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About the author


Iskra had a promising, at least she believed so, tennis and volleyball careers as a junior but a series of injuries ended her hopes to become a professional athlete very early.

Instead, she focused all her energy on her other passion, writing. For over a decade, Iskra had been a freelance sports writer. Football, basketball and tennis are the main fields of her expertise.