Philadelphia 76ers quarterback and league champion Joel Embiid won his first NBA Most Valuable Player award Tuesday night, defeating two-time champion Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
The 29-year-old Cameroonian averaged 33.1 points to win his second straight title, averaged 10.2 rebounds and posted a career-high 4.2 assists per game.
Embiid played 66 games, the second-highest total of his career, but was again plagued by injuries in the playoffs.
Embiid was sidelined with a right knee sprain that cost him a playoff game against Brooklyn and an Eastern Conference semifinal against Boston, which Philadelphia won on Monday night.
Jokic finished second while Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks finished third. Embiid received 73 votes for first place. Jokic received 15 votes for first place and Antetokounmpo received 12.
Embiid is the first 76’ers player to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award since Allen Iverson in 2001. Julius Irving in 1981, Moses Malone in 1983, and Wilt Chamberlain from 1966 to 1968 are the other 76ers players who have won the Most Valuable Player Award.
Embiid’s injury could be the deciding factor in the 76ers’ pursuit of an NBA title. The Sixers are looking to win their first NBA title since 1983 and advance to the second round for the first time since 2001 — the last time a Sixer won the MVP award.