Nikola Jokic Vs Joel Embiid: NBA MVP

Jan 28, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) meet after a game at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most thrilling plotlines of any NBA season is the race for the Most Valuable Player award, and the 2022–2023 season has, without a doubt, lived up to the hype. While the race for the award has featured plenty of prolific names throughout the year, two basketball players have been near the top for the duration of the season: Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid

This season, both players have been dominant forces on the court, propelling their teams to remarkable records and having captivating individual performances as well. But who is most deserving of winning the MVP title for the 2022–2023 season? This article compares Jokic and Embiid’s performances, stats, and head-to-head games to decide who should be named this season’s Most Valuable Player

Nikola Jokic Vs Joel Embiid: NBA MVP

Embiid and Jokic’s Season Stats

Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic have both had tremendous seasons this year, statistically. As of the time this article was published, Jokic, the reigning MVP, is averaging 24.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.9 assists per game, which are all remarkable stats. With a true shooting percentage of 70.1%, he is also shooting an exceptional 63.3% from the field and 39.4% from three-point range. Coupled with those numbers, Jokic also leads the NBA in offensive rating with a mark of 134.7.

Embiid, on the other hand, is averaging 33.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game and having a career year. With a true shooting percentage of 65.4%, he is shooting an effective 54.6% from the field and 36.9% from beyond the arc.

Advanced statistics show that Embiid has the advantage in Win Shares with 8.5 compared to Jokic’s 7.6, while Jokic has a minor advantage in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with 28.5 compared to Embiid’s 27.9. Both players have made compelling arguments for the MVP award because they have contributed significantly to their team’s success this year.

Nikola Jokic 2022-2023 Stats

63 63 33.9 9.5 15.0 63.4 0.9 2.2 39.4 4.9 6.0
81.8 2.4 9.4 11.9 9.9 1.2 0.7 3.6 24.7 48-24

Joel Embiid 2022-2023 Stats

57 57 34.8 11.2 20.4 54.6 1.1 3.0 35.5 10.1 11.8
85.5 1.8 8.4 10.2 4.2 1.1 1.7 3.4 33.5 48-22

Both hoopers have made various contributions to the accomplishments of their teams. Jokic has been the all-around player this season, recording 27 triple-doubles, showcasing his ability to be versatile and helping his team in any way. He consistently made the right plays all season to help Denver get to where they are now, whether he had to carry the scoring load or get his teammates involved. It’s no accident that he has tallied 10+ assists in 34 games as well.

Joel Embiid has just been a sheer dominant force that cannot be stopped. He has recently been on a tear and nothing short of extraordinary. He has helped his team win eight straight games and set a Sixers franchise record by scoring at least 30 points nine times in a row. In addition, he has scored 30 points on 55% field goal shooting in seven straight games. Lebron James is the only other NBA player to have accomplished that since the shot clock era, and Embiid has a chance to overtake him and claim the record for himself.

Head to Head: Joel Embiid vs Nikola Jokic

Up until the last two to three weeks, many predicted that Jokic would win the MVP award again this season. He went from being the overwhelming favorite to perhaps losing the lead. While both Embiid and Jokic have consistently contributed to their teams’ success, have maintained steady stats throughout the season, and have generally been terrific players, Embiid’s recent performance has prompted the narrative to start shifting in his favor. It appears that Embiid might be the front-runner to win the 2023 MVP if he keeps this up without Jokic having a few big statement games.

The Deciding Factor

For a majority of the season, many were foreseeing Jokic as a future three-time MVP until the tides shifted over the last few weeks. He went from a clear-cut favorite to someone who might be losing the lead. Both Embiid and Jokic have consistently helped their teams achieve so much success, have had consistent stats throughout the season, and have both been great all around, but Embiid’s current level of play has caused the narrative to start flipping in Embiid’s favor. 

If he keeps this up without Jokic having a couple of big statement games it seems that Embiid might be the number one candidate to win the 2023 MVP. So what will matter if there is only a slight difference between the two players if Jokic accomplishes something extraordinary to turn the media’s focus back to him? Their head-to-head to head matchups.

Earlier This Season

Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic last faced off on 1/28/23, during which Jokic managed an efficient 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. Embiid had a monstrous performance with  47 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists while helping his squad defeat the Nuggets 126-119. The individual battle between Embiid and Jokic was won by Embiid, who made a significant statement with his play.  While that matchup had a great deal of importance, it is not the final time these two Juggernauts will face off this year.

Winner Take All

Luckily, on March 27th, 2023, we get to watch the head-to-head showdown for the second and last time this season. That game will be circled on the calendars of all sports fans who value rivalries and defining moments. Seven days out from the game, it’s very likely that Embiid and Jokic are already mentally preparing for it, given so much could be at stake for the MVP battle. On that day, the team victory will be crucial, but these two players’ individual performances will carry much more weight. Not only is this a high-pressure game for Embiid, but for Jokic due to the fact he is only 2-5 in his career vs Embiid and will have to do everything he can to overcome the challenge. One thing is for certain, one of these players will put the entire NBA on notice.

At the end of the season, the MVP award will likely go to whoever is the most dominant this night. Each player is aware of this and will make every effort to outperform the other. You will be able to feel the electrifying energy through your television and enjoy some fantastic hoops. I can assure you of that. It might even be one of the most entertaining games of the NBA this season!


Ultimately, it will not be a simple task choosing between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic for the NBA Most Valuable Player award this year. Both players have been dominant forces on the court, have put up incredible numbers, and have helped their teams win. While Embiid has been having a career year and has been crucial to the success of the 76ers, Jokic has the advantage in some statistical categories while also leading his team to success. 

These two titans’ head-to-head matchups have been very entertaining, and they may have a significant impact on who wins the MVP award this season. In the end, the decision depends on how each voter interprets “value” and the stories surrounding each player’s season. At this point in time, I think Joel Embiid is the MVP, especially if he continues to play at this high level. But so much can happen in the next few games that it isn’t guaranteed, and Nikola Jokic can still be crowned the MVP. Who do you think the 2022-2023 NBA MVP will be?