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Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo? The key stats you need to know in 2023 MVP debate
By Scott Rafferty,
Joel Embiid saved one of his best performances of the season for last.
In Philadelphia's win over Boston on April 4, Embiid went off for 52 points, 13 rebounds and six assists on 20-for-25 shooting from the field. He became only the third center in NBA history to record three 50-point games in a single season, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain.
After the game, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said Embiid's performance should put an end to the MVP debate.
"The MVP race is over," Rivers said . "Tonight, we couldn't make shots, we had guys [missing] open shots — the man just scored half our points, in an NBA game. And I'm biased, but the MVP race is over."
Is that the case? Here's how Embiid stacks up statistically with Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two other leading MVP candidates, with only a few days remaining in the regular season.
(All stats current through games played on April 4, 2023)
Nikola Jokic vs. Joel Embiid vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Traditional stats
Embiid has the edge over both Jokic and Antetokounmpo in scoring. He's also averaging more stocks per game (blocks plus steals). A three-time All-Defensive Second Team selection, Embiid has proven himself to be one of the best anchors in the NBA.
Jokic, who has a shot at becoming only the third player in NBA history to average a triple-double, leads the way in assists and rebounds. He could become the first center ever to average double-digit assists in a single season.
Antetokounmpo doesn't lead a single category outright other than turnovers, but he's arguably the league's best player today. In addition to being the only one with a championship, he's a two-time MVP and one-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Nikola Jokic vs. Joel Embiid vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Team success
The Nuggets, 76ers and Bucks have been three of the best teams this season. They've each been dominant with their MVP candidate in the lineup, but Jokic is the only one whose team has a losing record without him.
The difference between how the Nuggets perform with Jokic on the court compared to when he's on the bench is the largest in the NBA for the second season in a row.