As good as the 2020-21 NBA season has been for the Philadelphia 76ers on the whole, Joel Embiid’s individual campaign has been the true gem. The four-time All-Star is playing the best basketball of his career by a college mile, putting up historic numbers for a big man.
For the year, he is averaging 30.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals per contest. He also boasts eye-popping shooting splits of 51-38-85.
Embiid is the only player in league history to put up that combined line. Even if you remove the shooting qualifiers, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo have posted similar numbers in a season (they did it way back in the mid-1970s).
As such, Embiid has been a fixture in the MVP race all season long. Many even considered him the front runner until a bone bruise kept him out for three weeks. Nevertheless, Philly’s superstar pivot has climbed his way back to the top of the race despite the injury.
In NBA.com’s latest MVP ladder, Embiid ranked second to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic for the prize.
Curiously, though, fans on Twitter reportedly don’t share the same enthusiasm for Embiid as an MVP candidate that hoops pundits have. In fact, a study of geolocation data has shown that fans largely view a player currently outside of the playoff race as the favorite.
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Twitter Data Reveals Fans’ Love for Stephen Curry
As reported by theScore, Sportsinsider.com created a map based on geotagged Twitter data from the last month — at least 300,000 tweets were mined — that revealed fans’ picks for NBA MVP on a state-by-state basis.
States were won by a handful of players one would expect to see in relation to the MVP race. Embiid showed up on the map, as did Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks star and reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
However, none of them were as popular among fans as Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, according to the data.
Despite the fact that the Warriors currently find themselves outside of the top eight in the Western Conference, Curry won a whopping 31 states. Jokic finished second, gaining majority Twitter approval in 14 states.
Meanwhile, Embiid was the fans’ choice for MVP in only three states — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Elsewhere on the map, Antetokounmpo won Wisconsin and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard took Oregon.
Twitter map shows most of U.S. thinks Steph Curry is NBA MVP. 👀 https://t.co/uuWSbklBv7 pic.twitter.com/ZoQVVp3n4L
— theScore (@theScore) April 23, 2021
Curry’s Curious Twitter Support
In some ways, the level of support Curry enjoys on Twitter makes sense. He has arguably been the league’s most impactful player and the cornerstone of its best team of the last decade.
He is also having a monster season. In 52 games in ’20-21, Curry is averaging a career-best 31.2 points while adding 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per contest. His effective field goal percentage of 61.1 is also one of the better marks of his career.
In his last 10 games, he has scored 40 or more points on five occasions, including a 53-point outburst against the Nuggets.
Still, his team has played .500 ball at 30-30 this season and may be heading for the draft lottery for the second straight year. Meanwhile, Embiid and Jokic have been the driving forces in their teams’ move toward the top of the standings.
Moreover, Embiid’s ability to affect games with his defense is something that neither Curry nor Jokic can match. When Embiid has been on the court this season, opponents are scoring just 106.9 points per 100 possessions.
So, while NBA Twitter appears to be hanging onto their five-year-old tickets for Curry’s hype train, his popularity and Embiid’s three-state win likely aren’t representative of the actual MVP race.
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