Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Joel Embiid isn’t backing down from picking himself to win the 2018-19 NBA MVP.
“I feel like this summer is this my first healthy summer ever, so I have been putting the work in and working out every day, and I have already gotten so much better,” Embiid said. “I’m starting to see it and I’m excited. I feel like we could be seeing an MVP season.”
Embiid added his goal for the Sixers is making the NBA Finals, another talking point he’s been touting throughout the summer.
This will be the first time in Embiid’s career he’s been healthy the entire summer. He missed his first two NBA seasons due to foot injuries and was recovering from knee surgery last offseason.
The 7-footer averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game in 2017-18. He played in a career-high 63 games, and the Sixers remained world beaters when he was on the floor. There might only be two or three players in the entire league who make a bigger difference on their teams than Embiid.
The odds, however, are not in Embiid’s favor. A true center has not won the NBA MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000. Tim Duncan, a center masquerading as a power forward, won the award in 2002-03 but still spent most of his time at the 4 during that season, per Basketball-Reference.
The sport has increasingly moved away from the traditional center position and is a game dominated by wings and point guards. Bigs have been making a bit of a comeback, but guys like Embiid remain playable because of their ability to stretch the floor.
With the MVP race relatively wide open at the moment, Embiid might have an outside shot at pulling it off.