Joel Embiid says he’s more concerned with winning games than another MVP award

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player but despite putting up numbers this year to substantiate a second consecutive MVP award, he’s more concerned with getting the Sixers deep in the playoffs and in the running for the team’s first championship since 1983.

Embiid, who returned to action with the team on Monday night after missing three games due to left knee inflammation, helped drive the Sixers to an assertive 124-115 win over the Houston Rockets with a beastly 41-point, 10 rebound performance in 31 minutes of play. Then the very next night he did it again, this time against the reigning NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets; Embiid outbattled NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, again scoring 41 points, and adding 10 assists alongside 7 rebounds to put the Sixers over the Nuggets with a final score of 126-121.

It’s clear that The Process is, as always, an integral part of the Sixers lineup — but that’s only if he’s healthy.

Joel Embiid showing off his MVP-caliber wingspan/

Though Embiid has played 28 of the Sixers’ 38 games this season, and can afford to miss seven more games if he wants to fit the newly implemented 65-games-played criteria for the NBA’s end-of-season awards, staying healthy is first and foremost in the 7’0″ Cameroonian native’s mind. Of his eight seasons with the 76ers, Embiid has only met the 65-game-threshold twice — a career-high 68 games in the 2021-22 season and 66 games last season.

“I’ve already done it,” Embiid told reporters after the win over the Rockets of winning another NBA MVP Award. “If I have a chance to get a second one, I’ll do it. But I’m not going to force myself or push for it. My game is always going to speak for itself. We’re winning. That’s the main thing. We’ve got to keep winning and obviously, you put in the stats to be in the [MVP] conversation that’s great, too. But at the end of the day, if something is going on, and I can’t meet the requirement for the amount of games played to qualify for that, then so be it. But one thing we’re not going to do is push for it to try to make the requirement.”

And winning is something the 76ers are better at doing with Embiid rather than without. Though the Sixers are currently third in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 26-13 record, in the 10 games in Embiid’s absence the Sixers are 3-7.

Although it’d never be our intention to detract from his overall goal, it’s worth taking a look at JoJo’s numbers this season, which are once again MVP-caliber: he’s the NBA’s leading scorer with 35.1 points per game, 5th in rebounding with 11.7 per game and 9th in blocks with 2.0 per contest. He’s also sporting a career-high 5.9 assists per game and 1.1 steals per game, which ties his personal best average from the 2021-22 season.

These numbers are hard to go without in the 76ers’ games this season, and Embiid intends to bring his best for the Sixers in the 2024 postseason.

“Like I said, the goal is to be ready for the playoffs,” Embiid explained in a previous previous post-game talk. “If I can’t meet the criteria of 65 games, and if I can’t play against some of the best teams in the league, then as long as I’m ready to be dominant when it comes to that time in April, then that’s all I care about.”

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