Joel Embiid is in the midst of a fantastic season for the Philadelphia 76ers. The MVP award seems to be his to lose and the Sixers look like a true championship-caliber team.
Embiid sat down with Shams Charania of The Athletic to talk about his season, his MVP candidacy and much more. On top of saying that he feels better now than he has in his entire career, the Sixers’ big man gave some answers that are sure to raise some eyebrows.
When asked if he feels pressure to lead the Sixers to the championship this season, Embiid said that the pressure he feels is only from himself. He insists that the outside pressure should be more on the players that have more accolades than him.
“I don’t care about the pressure that everybody puts on me. All I care about is the pressure that I put on myself to win,” Embiid said. “People have been talking about who has the most pressure to win. People want to mention me. I’m not at the top of that list. I’m not a two-time MVP, I’ve never made first-team All-NBA, I’ve never won anything. So why is there pressure on me to do something when there are guys that have won two MVPs, a bunch of MVPs and haven’t done anything either?”
The Sixers are certainly under pressure to win, especially because it may cost them James Harden in free agency if they don’t. Every single Philly player has talked about how the championship is the goal this season. Embiid’s point seems to be mostly directed at Nikola Jokic and those who don’t put more pressure on him to deliver in the playoffs.
But wait, there’s more! When asked about previous comments made by fellow MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo that MVP criteria are always changing, Joel Embiid said that he agreed. He made sure to mention the advanced statistics that many media members turn to when ranking candidates.
“I don’t care, but every year it’s something. And when you add analytics into it, which don’t make sense,” the Sixers center said. “You can talk about analytics all you want. When you got some guys in the league, the eye test tells you that they’re not good defensively, but analytics tell you they’re the best defenders. That’s when analytics don’t make sense at all. I don’t make the rules, I don’t choose whatever criteria that they use, so it’s really about whatever people’s preferences are.”
Considering that Jokic is at the very top or near the top of leaderboards in all-in-one defensive metrics despite having a poor reputation as a defender, this could be read as a shot at him. While that certainly can’t be ruled out, it is more likely a shot at the award voters. Jokic and Embiid seem to have mutual respect but the same cannot be said about Embiid and the media folks who have denied him the MVP twice in a row.
Embiid will get the chance to back up his words as the Sixers face Jokic and the Nuggets.
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