In the eyes of many, the NBA MVP race has evolved into a battle between two big men — Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Ahead of the All-Star break, Embiid was the frontrunner, leading his team to the best record in the East while logging a historic stat line.
After Embiid missed multiple weeks with a bone bruise, however, and the Nuggets stormed back to the top half of the West standings, Jokic became the media’s player to watch for the award.
Still, both players clearly boast incredible resumes on the MVP front.
For the year, Embiid is putting up 29.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 blocks per contest. He also leads the league in PER at 31.1 while his .277 win shares per 48 minutes rank second league-wide.
Jokic, meanwhile, is putting up a near-triple-double every night, averaging 26.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game (as well as 1.4 steals). He also leads the league in a number of catch-alls; win shares, win shares/48, VORP, box plus/minus and more.
Numbers and media chatter aside, though, the opinion of other NBA players may offer the best measurement of which player truly deserves the year-end honor. And, for his part, Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross left little doubt about who would get his MVP vote.
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Terrence Ross Picks Joel Embiid for NBA MVP
Ross made an appearance on the April 30 episode of the Got Hoops Podcast, discussing topics ranging from his decade-long career to the current landscape of the Association.
While running through some of the teams he considers title contenders, he gave a special shout-out to Embiid, who he considers to be the MVP for 2020-21. Moreover, he explicitly stated that he would pick Philly’s superstar pivot over Jokic.
“Joel Embiid — to me, in my opinion — is the MVP,” said Ross. “Yeah, like, even more so than Jokic.”
Ross did make clear his opinion that the two are neck and neck for the honor. However, he gives Embiid the nod for upping his game this season while Jokic is essentially doing what he always has.
“It’s close; I just think with the way Joel has been playing. Like, he has been balling,” he said. “Yeah, Jokic — he’s balling — but this is almost nothing new for him. Like, he has been first on all the statistics on the team for probably the last three, four seasons.”
Ross Stops Short of Picking Sixers to Win It All
While he clearly backs Embiid for MVP honors, Ross doesn’t expect the four-time All-Star to lead his team to the title. Instead, he’s picking Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at season’s end.
“I really think that Utah, though, is going to be the team that wins it because they are stacked, bro,” he said.
“They have like five to seven players who are all shooting almost 40 percent [from three],” he said. “They move the ball so well, they have great rim protection…”
He further noted that the Jazz are his “2K team.”
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