Joel Embiid Should be Considered an MVP Candidate
It is only January and a lot of people are talking about either James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the MVP, but what about Joel Embiid?
The NBA offseason is upon us, and I'm going to rank the top 50 players heading into next season. Here are a few things to take into consideration.
1) I am ranking for only the 2018-2019 season. One year potential is taken into consideration, but long term potential is basically ignored. Contracts are ignored as well.
2) I know the playoffs completely overshadow the regular season, but remember it is only a small part of the entire body of work. One playoff series is 4-7 games. The regular season in 82 games. Don't overreact to one four game stretch of bad or good performances.
3) I am using a combination of advanced and simple statistics. The three player-raters I use are BPM (Box Score Plus Minus) from basketball-reference.com, RPM (Real Plus Minus) from ESPN, and PIE (Player Impact Estimate from NBA.com.
I plan to update the rankings throughout summer and the regular season. In case you missed the previous rankings the links are below.
\10) Joel Embiid / C / Philadelphia 76ers / Age 24
63 GP / 22.9 PPG / 3.2 APG / 11.0 RPG / 0.6 SPG / 1.8 BPG
30.8% 3PT% / 48.3% FG% / 76.9% FT% / 57.3% TS%
2.6 BPM / 5.10 RPM / 17.7 PIE
When healthy, Embiid might be the most dominant big man since Shaq. The 76ers were pretty bad offensively, and legitimately terrible when Embiid was off the court. Embiid is the counter to the modern NBA where defenses switch everything. Centers have a hard enough time handling his physicality, good luck putting a wing on him.
\9) Chris Paul / PG / Houston Rockets / Age 33
58 GP / 18.6 PPG / 7.9 APG / 5.4 RPG / 1.7 SPG / 0.2 BPG
38.0% 3PT% / 46.0% FG% / 91.9% FT% / 60.4% TS%
7.1 BPM / 6.99 RPM / 16.6 PIE
Another year, another playoff injury for Chris Paul. It's really too bad, he is consistently one of the best point guards and one of the few that guards opposing point guards. The best two way point guard in the game, could put up way more points but works extremely hard to keep his teammates involved.
\8) Jimmy Butler / Wing / Minnesota Timberwolves / Age 28
59 GP / 22.2 PPG / 4.9 APG / 5.3 RPG / 2.0 SPG / 0.4 BPG
35.0% 3PT% / 47.4% FG% / 85.4% FT% / 59.0% TS%
5.0 BPM / 6.39 RPM / 15.1 PIE
The Timberwolves improved from a 31 win team to a 47 win team basically because of Jimmy Butler. Still one of the best two way wings in the game and one of the few that can maintain a high level of play with Thibbs level minutes.
\7) James Harden / G / Houston Rockets / Age 28
72 GP / 30.4 PPG / 8.8 APG / 5.4 RBG / 1.8 SPG / 0.7 BPG
36.7 3PT% / 44.9% FG% / 85.8% FT% / 61.9% TS%
10.9 BPM / 6.71 RPM / 19.4 PIE
The biggest improvement in Hardens game comes on the defensive end of the floor. He has legitimately improved to the point where he is a GOOD post defender. Having Harden guard big men in the post allows him to conserve energy on defense without being a liability, and he still produces at an insane level on the offensive end of the floor.
\6) Giannis Antetokounmpo / Forward / Milwaukee Bucks / Age 23
75 GP / 26.9 PPG / 4.8 APG / 10.0 RPG / 1.5 SPG / 1.4 BPG
30.7 3PT% / 52.9% FG% / 76.0% FT% / 59.8% TS%
5.8 BPM / 4.23 RPM / 18.6 PIE
Having a respectable jump shot is the only thing keeping Ginnis from being the most unstoppable player in the NBA. Finally being free from Jason Kidd should only help his development. I expect him to be a strong candidate for MVP next season.
\5) Stephen Curry / PG / Golden State Warriors / Age 30
51 GP / 26.4 PPG / 6.1 APG / 5.1 RPG / 1.6 SPG / 0.2 BPG
42.3% 3PT % / 49.5 FG% / 92.1 FT% / 67.5% TS%
8.6 BPM / 6.65 RPM / 16.5 PIE
Is the injury bug coming back? Curry had arguable his most efficient shooting season, but missed time due to injuries. Still maybe the best offensive weapon in the NBA, and defends at an acceptable level.
\4) Kawhi Leonard / F / San Antonio Spurs / Age 26
74 GP / 25.5 PPG / 3.5 APG / 5.8 RPG / 1.8 SPG / 0.7 BPG
38.0% 3PT% / 48.5% FG% / 88.0% FT% / 61.0% TS%
7.9 BPM / 7.08 RPM / 17.4 PIE
All stats from 2016-2017 season
What a strange and unexpected story that developed in San Antonio this past season. However, just one year ago there was a legitimate debate for the second best player in the NBA between Kawhi and Durant. Finished second in MVP voting in 15'-16' and third in 16'-17', just remember that when coming up fake Kawhi trades.
\3) Anthony Davis / PF/C / New Orleans Pelicans / Age 25
75 GP / 28.1 PPG / 2.3 APG / 11.1 RPG / 1.5 SPG / 2.6 BPG
34.0 3PT% / 53.4% FG% / 82.2% FT% / 62.8% TS%
5.2 BPM / 5.50 RPM / 18.8 PIE
Davis played in 75 games back to back season and might have finally shaken the injury prone tag. Vastly improved his three point shooting, and is still a dominant shot blocker. The next step for Davis is carrying his team deeper in the playoffs.
\2) Kevin Durant / F / Golden State Warriors / Age 29
68 GP / 26.4 PPG / 5.4 APG / 6.4 RPG / 0.7 SPG / 1.8 BPG
41.9% 3PT% / 51.6% FG% / 88.9% FT% / 64.0% TS%
5.6 BPM / 3.61 RPM / 16.8 PIE
A 7'0 that can shoot and handle the ball, it's not even fair. Completely unguardable, forcing Durant into a midrange shot is the best defense but he still shoots a ridiculous 49.5% from there. Continuing to improve as a rim protector and passer, the gap between him and LeBron is minuscule.
\1) LeBron James / F / Cleveland Cavaliers / Age 33
82 GP / 27.5 PPG / 9.1 APG / 8.6 RPG / 1.4 SPG / 0.9 BPG
34.2% 3PT% / 52.9% FG% / 74.6% FT% / 61.9% TS%
9.6 BPM / 4.96 RPM / 19.1 PIE
Still the best. Led the NBA in minutes and played in all 82 games at age 33. Defense is slipping, but a lot of the can probably be attributed to the fact that he has to do everything on offense. How much longer can he continue to win the battle against Father Time?