Sixers big man Joel Embiid has learned not to focus on winning the MVP award.
Embiid is the current frontrunner to win the award after it looked very much like Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was on course for a third-straight MVP.
Having thought about winning the award in previous seasons, Embiid chose to simply focus on winning games and dominating for the Sixers, and it’s seemingly worked given the current MVP odds.
That advice is also something Embiid happened to give fellow MVP candidate and Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum at the start of the season.
“The last two years I feel like I wasn’t chasing MVP … but my mind was only thinking about it,” Embiid told The Athletic. “That’s why even at the beginning of this season, when JT was going off and Boston was on this run, I told JT: If I got any advice for you, don’t focus on MVP. Just focus on the right things, which is winning games and dominating. Whatever helps your team win, that’s what you should do, and then everything will take care of itself.
“So for me, I also took that approach where I was like, the last few years, I could have probably had one MVP or whatever, and it didn’t happen. I just said I’m not going to focus on that. I’ve gotten to the point where people are used to me and people are putting the type of expectations on me. The only way I’m going to get that respect is by winning a championship. Whatever gets me to the playoffs healthy, that’s what I’ve got to do. Starting off the season not slowly, but one step at a time, building up to this point where I’m playing up to this point and just dominating offensively and defensively, it’s worked out well for me.
“When you worry about the right things, which is winning basketball and doing whatever it takes — whatever happens, happens.”
Tatum was an MVP candidate earlier in the season, but it has now boiled down to Embiid and Jokic with Giannis Antetekounmpo rounding out the top three.
The MVP will be crowned at the end of June.
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