It was announced on Tuesday that the recipient of the 2023 NBA MVP award is Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid. The big man had a staggering statistical season, posting 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, a steal and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 55% from the field. This marks the first MVP of the Cameroon Natives’ impressive career since coming into the NBA as the No.3 pick back in 2014.
Before we get into what this means for the league and Embiid, let’s first swiftly go through how he got here. Embiid didn’t start playing basketball until he was 15 years old and didn’t get discovered until he joined a Basketball Without Borders Camp in 2011. From there he came to the States to play high school basketball at Montverde Academy in Florida. While his high school career showcased his raw talent and physical gifts, there was a clear need for polishing his game.
He would be a one-and-done at Kansas in 2013-14 where he played under head coach Bill Self. He also played alongside the highly-regarded prospect in Canadian forward Andrew Wiggins, who many believed would be the next LeBron and hailed as “Maple Jordan”. At Kansas, he showed impressive footwork, touch, and skill, with many comparing him to NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon due to his background and playstyle.
As a Jayhawk, he averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game in just 23 minutes per contest. A broken foot would have Embiid drop to third in his draft class and cost him his first two seasons in the NBA. However, he made immediate impact as soon as he stepped on the floor. An All-Star and All-NBA player with an All-Defensive team selection under his belt. He’s dealt with numerous injuries, playoff blunders, and played runner-up to Nikola Jokic for MVP award in the last two seasons.