76ers Icon 'Dr. J' Julius Erving Has Nikola Jokic over Joel Embiid in NBA MVP Race

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 5, 2022

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid stands in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Cleveland. The 76ers won 112-108. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
AP Photo/David Dermer

If Joel Embiid truly feels people who don't have him as the NBA's MVP "hate" him, it looks like he's going to have an awkward talk with Sixers legend Julius Erving.

“I’m hopeful that Embiid wins it. Cause he does talk about it and it’s something that is one of those carrots out there that he’s reaching for. But I think the most deserving guy is Jokic," Erving said on the Rich Eisen Show. "He hasn’t missed any games. Night in and night out, he’s done better than he did last year. He was MVP last year. When you get better, I don’t think you lose status. Not if it’s a fair fight.

“I’m going to pull for Embiid because he’s my guy. And Antetokounmpo, who knows how he’s going to finish up? But both Embiid and Antetokounmpo have missed several weeks of play. Jokic has been out there every night.”

Jokic is currently favored to win his second consecutive MVP, sitting at -280 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Embiid is listed as +230, while Antetokounmpo is +600.

The Sixers center publicly lobbied for the award after putting up 44 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in Sunday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers

"If it happens, great," Embiid told reporters. "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."

While Embiid has had a season deserving of MVP honors in most years, Jokic has been the superior player based on nearly every available metric. He's been a more efficient shooter, better rebounder and passer, and Jokic dominates Embiid in advanced statistical categories.

As Erving notes, Jokic has also been on the floor for seven more games than Embiid, too.