Kevin Durant Backs Joel Embiid for NBA MVP over Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic

Adam WellsApril 12, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers prepares to shoot a free throw as Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center on December 30, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

If Kevin Durant had an NBA MVP vote, he would cast it for Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. 

The Brooklyn Nets star told reporters Tuesday he supports Embiid's case but noted the narrative aspect could be a significant factor, as "more people like Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and [Nikola] Jokic" for the award.

There seems to be a consensus among fans and analysts that the MVP race will come down to those three players.

Jokic is the betting favorite at -330 (bet $330 to win $100), per FanDuel. Embiid is second at +300, followed by Antetokounmpo at +800. 

Team performance would favor Embiid and Antetokounmpo over Jokic. The Sixers and Bucks both finished 51-31 during the regular season. The Nuggets had a 48-34 record, sixth-best in the Western Conference. 

There's a reasonable statistical argument for all three players. Embiid became the first center since Shaquille O'Neal in 1999-2000 to win the regular-season scoring title. The 76ers superstar averaged 30.6 points per game.

Antetokounmpo averaged a career-high 29.9 points per game and is on the short list of candidates to win Defensive Player of the Year. 

Jokic also set career highs in scoring average (27.1 points per contest) and rebounding (13.8 per game). He also averaged 7.9 assists per contest. The Nuggets star is the only player in the NBA to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounds and assists this season. 

Between basic stats and advanced metrics, Jokic was, by far, the best player in the league during the regular season. 

StatMuse @statmuse

The regular season is over.<br><br>Here’s every stat you need to know about the MVP race. <a href="https://t.co/O0V0KDbGuH">pic.twitter.com/O0V0KDbGuH</a>

Jokic also did that for a Nuggets team that didn't have Jamal Murray as he continued to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in April 2021. Michael Porter Jr. was mostly ineffective in the nine games he played this season before undergoing back surgery. 

Jokic seems to have the strongest resume, but Embiid has a good narrative that can carry him to the award. 

The Sixers were hardly a model of consistency this season. They navigated the Ben Simmons saga before eventually trading him to the Brooklyn Nets. James Harden was inconsistent during his 21 games in Philadelphia after the trade. 

Embiid was the one consistent presence for the 76ers all season. No Sixers player has won the MVP award since Allen Iverson in 2000-01.    

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