Joel Embiid just can’t catch a break. The league’s leading scorer this year at 30.6 points per game (the most by a Sixer since Allen Iverson in 2005), Embiid was snubbed again Tuesday, earning second-team All-NBA honors despite finishing runner-up to Denver’s Nikola Jokic in MVP voting. Embiid was also named to the second team in 2021, 2019 and 2018, twice losing out to Jokic and once to Anthony Davis. The five-time All-Star actually received more first-team votes than Jayson Tatum (57-49), but, because he plays the same position as Jokic (center), Embiid was relegated to second-team status.
It’s infuriating to see Embiid, a future Hall-of-Famer in the prime of his career, continue to settle for second billing while voters remain enamored with Jokic, an admittedly dominant player with rare ball-handling and passing skills for a seven-footer but not nearly the defensive presence or scorer that Embiid is.
For years, the NBA has lumped big men and wings into the same category for All-Star voting, labeling all non-guards as “frontcourt” players. However, that same courtesy isn’t extended to All-NBA teams, with voting broken down by position (guards, forwards and centers). The fact Embiid has never been a first-team selection would suggest a flawed system in need of repair.
Needless to say, fans, particularly those in Philadelphia, were incensed at voters refusing to give Embiid his due, languishing in the equivalent of basketball purgatory while other, arguably less accomplished players sit at the head table. Tatum and Devin Booker are both great players in their own right, but in terms of overall value, it’s hard to think they belong in a tier above Embiid, who ranked among the NBA’s top five in scoring (first), rebounding (fifth) and player efficiency rating (third) during the regular season.
While bringing a championship to Philadelphia remains his ultimate goal, Embiid admitted to being disappointed by his MVP snub, wondering when voters will finally give him the credit he deserves. The hope, at least for Sixers fans, is that Embiid uses it as fuel, coming back stronger and even more motivated in 2022-23.