2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia Sixers
The reigning league MVP follows up his MVP campaign from last season with perhaps the best year of his career thus far. He's led the league in scoring the last two seasons with over 30 points per game and is on pace to do it again for the third consecutive season (34.6).
Many counted the Sixers out and not being contenders in the East after the Harden trade but Embiid took all of that as motivation to propel his game up and also make his teammates better by averaging a career-high in assists with six per game along with 11.8 rebounds per contest.
Embiid currently has the highest usage rate in the NBA (38.1%) per Basketball Reference, which is also a career-high. He's on pace to become one of six players to have three consecutive seasons of averaging 30.0 points per game or better (Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and James Harden).
The Sixers currently sit third in the East at 23-12, and that's largely due to Embiid's dominance as perhaps the most dominant two-way force in the game, who also leads the league in free throws made (276) and second in attempts (313).
Embiid is not number one on my list because he has been missing games recently due to injury, which may hurt his chances of repeating. Let's hope that doesn't hamper what's been a historic season at one of the most skilled centers of all time.
Here's his dominant MVP-type performance against the "Twin Towers" on the Minnesota Timberwolves in All-Stars Karl Anthony-Towns and former Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.