2021 Midseason Report

Blogtable: Who is your midseason MVP?

Our scribes chime in on which player has stood out as the MVP midway through the 2020-21 season.

LeBron James and Joel Embiid are two of the early favorites for Kia MVP.

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Who is your midseason MVP?

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Steve Aschburner: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers. This is the Embiid we’ve been waiting to see: The giant who is healthy, is in the best shape of his career and is fully motivated at both ends of the floor. Took awhile but, at least for this moment in time, he got there. Embiid’s stats overall, the way he has embraced his matchups and the Sixers’ spot atop the East definitely are MVP-worthy. Check out just this one: With five 40 point-10 rebound games this season, the big fella has as many as the rest of the league combined.

Shaun Powell: It’s LeBron James, the rare player who’s not only on an elite level through 17 years, but in at least one way he’s even better — as a high-volume shooter from deep. All the greats bring a different wrinkle or an improved weapon each year, and LeBron is now pulling up from 25 feet comfortably. He’s even more important to the Lakers with Anthony Davis out. That said, by season’s end, I might slide over to Joel Embiid, who’s gaining on LeBron quickly.

John Schuhmann:  Joel Embiid. The Sixers’ big man has been a force on both ends of the floor, among the top candidates for both Defensive Player of the Year and an imaginary “Offensive Player of the Year” award. His passing out of the post still needs improvement, but right now, Embiid is registering the fourth highest true shooting percentage (64.6%) for any player in NBA who’s averaged 30 points per game (behind only Stephen Curry’s 2015-16 season and two seasons from Adrian Dantley). And that’s with him often having to space the floor (only 52% of his shots have come in the paint), because his point guard doesn’t shoot from outside the paint. On the other end, he’s the foundation for the league’s fifth-ranked defense. The Sixers are 23-7 with Embiid and 1-5 without him. And they’ve been 17.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (+11.1) than they’ve been with him off the floor (-6.3).

Michael C. Wright: Nobody has established themselves as the clear frontrunner, and all season I’ve been waffling back and forth between LeBron James and Joel Embiid. Depending on the day, it’s a different guy for me. But based off how the end of the first half has played out, Embiid gets the nod here (that could change as quickly as tomorrow for me). James is doing all he can for the Lakers, putting together his eighth game of the season during a Mar. 3 loss to the Suns in which he put up 30 points or more to go with 5-plus rebounds and 5-plus assists. That ties with James Harden for third-most in the NBA with just Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic producing more games with that stat line. But the Lakers are just 5-5 this season without Anthony Davis in the lineup, and it didn’t help that Dennis Schroder missed four games during the team’s four-game skid to close out February. A lot of people like to make this race about statistics. While they should definitely be considered when determining the MVP, team success should be equally important. Jokic probably doesn’t receive enough recognition in this conversation. Statistically, Jokic and Embiid are very similar. But it comes down to winning. We should count on players like Doncic, Harden, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard becoming more prominent candidates in the race as the second half of the season progresses.