Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid wins first MVP

Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers center, won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2022-23 season, beating out both Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Embiid finished the season with career highs in both scoring, averaging 33.1 points per game, and field goal shooting with 54.8%, alongside 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. He missed the past two weeks with a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, but his performance was good enough to secure the top individual honor in the league.

The win marks the third straight for a center, after Jokic’s wins in the past two seasons, and the fifth straight for an international player going back to Antetokounmpo’s victories in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The MVP award was renamed after Michael Jordan this season as part of an overall overhaul of the league’s awards. Embiid’s win denied Jokic the chance to become the third player ever to win three straight MVP awards, joining Larry Bird, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain.

Throughout the season, ESPN’s MVP Straw Polls tracked the race closely. Tatum led the initial straw poll in December, but Jokic took the lead in the final straw poll in March, claiming 77 out of 100 first-place votes. However, Embiid went on a tear after the All-Star break, resulting in him moving to the top of the final straw poll despite receiving fewer first-place votes than Jokic. Embiid made his closing argument with a dominant 52-point, 13-rebound performance to beat the Celtics during the final week of the regular season.

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