Joel Embiid has a message for the media: If you don't vote him MVP, you're a hater.
"If it happens, great," Embiid told reporters after putting up 44 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in Sunday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. "If it doesn't, I don't know what I have to do. I'll feel like they hate me. I feel like the standard for guys in Philly or for me is different than everyone else."
Embiid is currently projected by oddsmakers to finish behind Nikola Jokic in MVP balloting for the second straight season. DraftKings Sportsbook currently has Jokic as a -280 favorite to capture his second MVP, with Embiid sitting at +230 heading into the final week of the regular season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is lagging behind in third at +600, with no other player having odds better than 35-1.
As spectacular as Embiid has been, it's become increasingly hard to select him over Jokic on a statistical basis. Embiid averages more points per game (30.2 to 26.8), but Jokic is shooting a full nine percentage points higher (58.3 to 49.3) while grabbing more boards (13.7 to 11.6) and nearly doubling the Sixers star's assists (8.0 to 4.2).
Jokic's advantages are even starker when it comes to advanced statistics. He leads Embiid in basically every advanced stat known to man.
Jokic vs. Embiid Advanced Stats Breakdown
Win Shares: 11.5
Win Shares Per 48: .255
While Embiid dealt with the Ben Simmons saga for much of the season, Jokic has led a Nuggets team playing without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. The two teams also have almost equal records, with the Sixers at 48-30 and the Nuggets at 47-32.
From every objective standpoint, Jokic is the best big man in basketball and deserves the award—even if Embiid would have won it in most previous seasons.