Named MVP Finalist for the third straight year, with back-to-back scoring titles in tow, Joel Embiid has finally earned his first NBA Most Valuable Player award.
For the team as a unit, the 2022-23 season has always been, and continues to be, a “We Season.”
In their own words, here’s what Embiid has meant to that collective “we”:
“Joel has just been dominant. He came into training camp extremely focused. I think it’s the most focused, in my last three years, that I’ve seen him - and that’s saying something, because he’s had career years every year that I’ve been here. He’s stepped it up a notch. This year just seemed different. He’s extremely focused. And his leadership went to another level. I’ve always talked about what he’s done for me, and for a lot of different guys, as far as drawing in the defense, getting better at passing out of double teams, making his teammates better. He’s just been dominant - defensively, offensively, and leadership-wise.”
“I think what separates Joel is his ability to protect the rim on defense, and switch in real-life situations in the game, keep guys in front, and make them take tough shots. When he’s locked in on defense, he’s just that much better. And then his dominance on offense, literally being able to destroy everybody all year, I think it’s an easy decision. He’s the MVP for sure.
You just haven’t seen a big be able to dominate the way that he does, really shooting the ball - where it’s not back to the basket, it’s facing the basket. Really demanding a double every play. There just hasn’t been bigs like that in a long time. He’s one of one.
“I don’t think he necessarily did anything drastically different - I just think there’s more recognition towards his deserving of the award. As someone who’s been with [Joel for four years], to see the progression in his game, to see the progression in his leadership, and to see how hungry he is to win, and do whatever it takes to embrace all his teammates, I think that speaks volumes. He’s super deserving of it. I’m proud, I’m happy.
His game has just evolved, being an offensive specimen out there - somebody who can pick apart other teams’ defenses. He’s changed his game in a way that he’s become more and more unguardable, year after year offensively. And then on the defensive end as well - just doing amazing things to help the whole group.
“When I think about this award, I think about all the different things that MVP means. It doesn’t mean that you’re just great. It means that you’re great amongst all the great players that play in the NBA. That’s pretty special. It doesn’t just mean scoring the basketball. Obviously you have to do that, but you have to do so many more things. You have to rebound, you have to play defense, you have to be a great teammate, you have to make your teammates better, you have to work on your game, you have to be coachable, and you have to win. [Joel] is doing all those things for us.”
“Joel is the MVP because he’s a professional, first and foremost, how he carries himself. He doesn’t say too much, comes in, gets his work. In the game, he’s totally different. Joel is a monster. Unstoppable. 7-something, big dude, you can’t stop him. And he’s got a midrange game - what big guy can shoot the middy like that? And threes? And he can handle the ball? I don’t know.”
“The way he came out and just dominated. His style of play - he can score from the perimeter, he can catch on the elbow, shoot over defenders - even when he catches it on the block, he can just bruise, and get layups after layups. His ability to score at a high rate is really special at his size, too.”
“I mean everything. Everything is different for Joel. I’ve seen him grow as a player, as a man, as a human, and now he’s winning MVP, finally. He deserves it. I’m really happy for him, to see this growth. I’ve spent six years with him, so it means a lot also for me. I’m super, super happy about it. Congrats, Joel. He’s changed a lot. He talks more, and we can discover him more. He’s changed a lot, on the court and off the court.”
“He’s second to none. He’s one of one. And he continues to get better. We’re all finally witnessing Joel Embiid - who I think everybody thought he could potentially be, some years ago.”
“Welcome to the club, well-deserved. I’m so proud, [he] had a hell of a year. Should’ve gotten it last year too.”
“Man, it’s crazy. I feel like I’ve seen Joel perform at an MVP level for at least the past three years now. To see his growth this year, especially when it comes to trusting us teammates, and then just seeing him put in the work day in and day out, showing up every game ready to compete. Above all else, he wants to win. And I think that’s what really separates him.”
“Joel’s shown pure dominance this year. It’s his second consecutive year of averaging 30 points, and continuing to lead us to wins. When you have a center, in this day and age, when centers aren’t really used like Joel is used, and he can do that on a night in, night out basis, and still find ways to be effective - he’s clearly the Most Valuable Player.”
“Joel is an absolute bucket getter. I think the whole league knows that. Just giving him the ball and letting him go to work, every play, he’s dominating, every game. That’s MVP worthy. Not only does he dominate the game on the offensive end. Something I admire about his game is he puts his life on the line. He’ll go and try to block somebody from dunking the ball, and not be scared to get dunked on - things like that, I admire, because I’m also a big. I’ll be like, ‘Dang. He’s got heart.’ I feel like that’s MVP-worthy stuff right there.”