Sixers’ Joel Embiid named MVP finalist for second straight year

Whatever the outcome of this season’s NBA MVP voting, intense disagreement appears inevitable.

As for the 2021-22 MVP finalists, that’s not the case.

Joel Embiid was unsurprisingly confirmed Sunday night as a finalist along with reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Embiid placed second last season.

Without question, this regular season was Embiid’s best. He won the scoring title and led the Sixers to a 51-win campaign despite zero appearances from 2020-21 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Ben Simmons and plenty of uncomfortable elements related to the three-time All-Star’s unusual situation.

The NBA will announce its award winners during the playoffs. If Embiid is not among them, Georges Niang expects he’ll be motivated by the perceived snub.

“I think you will see an unreal Joel Embiid in the playoffs if that happens,” Niang said Wednesday. “So, I mean, pick your poison. I think he deserves it. I’m not going to do any more advocating because the numbers speak for themselves and I know who my MVP is. But if he doesn’t win it, he’s going to show you why he should’ve won it. … Don’t challenge Joel.”

Tyrese Maxey is not a Most Improved Player finalist after taking Simmons’ starting point guard spot to begin his second season, soaring from 30.1 to 42.7 percent from three-point range, and scoring 38 points in the Sixers’ Round 1, Game 1 win Saturday night over the Raptors.

The final item isn’t relevant to the Most Improved Player nerd, but it seems few would argue at the moment against Maxey fitting the award’s criteria very well. Embiid believes the 21-year-old is serving.

“If it was up to me, he would probably be the Most Improved Player in the league with what he’s accomplished and the situation we were in all year,” Embiid said Thursday of Maxey. “But I always believed in him because he has such a high work ethic. He works hard, he’s always in the gym. So I always believed he was going to be here.”

First-time All-Star guards Darius Garland, Ja Morant and Dejounte Murray are the three top Most Improved finishers. Below is the full list:

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