Jokic and Embiid’s fight for MVP is closer than ever according to new poll

Mar 30, 2023, 9:34 AM | Updated: Mar 31, 2023, 1:12 pm

Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid...

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Could there be a tie for MVP? Jason Kidd joked about it but there’s a real chance the NBA is forced to split their new Michael Jordan Trophy.

In ESPN’s latest and final NBA MVP Straw Poll, Joel Embiid has indeed finished first in voting. The Philly big beat Nikola Jokic by two points, while the Nuggets star actually got more first-place votes.

Historically, the closest margin was 22 points between winner Magic Johnson and runner-up Charles Barkley in 1989-90. So the MVP, as guessed to be, will finish historically this season. Either Jokic takes home the trophy for a third-straight time, which hasn’t been done since Larry Bird in the 1980s, or Embiid becomes the first to play fewer than 70 games and hoist the trophy since the 1970s. And the margin will also make history.

Jokic is averaging 24.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 9.9 assists and is within reach of becoming the third player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season, joining guards Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.

Embiid leads the league in scoring per night (33.2 points per game) for a second-straight season while adding 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo is not out of the picture, the former back-to-back MVP is leading the NBA’s best team and averaging 31.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists. He’s only 178 points back of first place while collecting 18 first-place votes.

It seems Embiid ducking Jokic did not have as big of an impact as the Nuggets losing four games in a row earlier this month. Embiid’s 76ers also just did that, but the bar is raised when you’re trying to win three straight, apparently. Embiid finished runner-up to Jokic in each of the last two seasons.

Jokic had taken a huge lead in the season’s second poll conducted by ESPN, just before the All-Star break. At the time the Nuggets center claimed 77 of the 100 first-place votes.

Antetokounmpo is going to have a say in this fight if he doesn’t win it all, and as seen by the polling, the order of where voters place the Greek Freak is going to have a big say in Jokic against Embiid.

This poll is the best snapshot available of where voters are, since ESPN asks many NBA MVP voters for their current take, it is normally much more accurate than odds in assessing the race.



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