If you check out the Twitter page of Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid, you’ll see that his “middle name” in the Twitterverse, is “Troel” which is a not-so-subtle reference to his trolling skills which, like his game, are among the best of any player in the NBA.
The man likes to have fun and makes jokes, all the time. But what we’ve seen on the court from him this season, is no laughing matter.
Embiid is delivering and dominating games in every fashion imaginable these days.
This season, he’s averaging 28 points per game along with 10.4 rebounds and a career-high 4.2 assists. He’s also turning the ball over 2.9 times per game which is the first time in his career when his turnovers per game average were less than three.
“Just playing my game, just dominating like I’ve been all season,” Embiid told NBA TV shortly after the win over Orlando.
He was talking about the Magic when truthfully, he could have been talking about just about every foe the Sixers have faced this season.
And the scary part?
He’s becoming more efficient about it.
Earlier this month, Embiid scored a career-high-tying 50 points against Orlando, along with grabbing 12 rebounds to go with three blocks and two assists. Among Sixers players, only Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson scored 50 or more points more than once.
Embiid’s strong play has catapulted him into the top-tier of the league MVP race, a race in which he finished second to Denver’s NIkola Jokic last season.
And while Jokic was a front-runner for the award most of last season, the race for this year’s league MVP award is wide open.
Not only is he dominating games, but he’s also leading the Sixers to the kind of success that has catapulted them back into the conversation as one of the top teams in the wide-open Eastern Conference this season.
Here are seven teams that are playing some of the best basketball in the association, right now.
Philadelphia (26-18): The Sixers have won eight of their last 10 games, and now find themselves 2.5 games out of the top spot in the East. Of course, their success has been fueled by the MVP-level play of Joel Embiid. But another key performer has been Seth Curry who has averaged a career-high 15.8 points per game this season.
Phoenix (35-9): The last team with single-digit losses this season, the Suns continue to remind us all that last season’s run towards the NBA Finals was no fluke.
Memphis (31-16): Having become the youngest team in NBA history to win 11 or more consecutive games, Memphis has become the feel-good story of the NBA season, courtesy of Ja Morant and a slew of 20-something ballers who are Swag surfin’ their way to the top of the NBA charts.
Dallas (26-20): This is a big year for Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks, a team that has been in that, “good but not good enough” zone. But the last couple of weeks has been some of the best basketball played by Dončić and the Mavericks which includes wins recently over Golden State and Chicago.
Charlotte (25-20): If there’s a team in the East that’s trending in the right direction that no one wants to see come playoff time, it’s the Charlotte Hornets. They have won seven of their last 10 games which includes a pair of wins over the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Brooklyn (28-16): The Nets have alternated wins and losses most of this month, in large part because they have been missing league MVP candidate Kevin Durant (left knee) and Kyrie Irving is limited to just road games because of New York State’s vaccination regulations. But the opportunity to get on track is present for the Nets, with eight of their next 11 games on the road.
Miami (29-16): Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have missed a combined 42 games this year, while Miami’s Big Three have suited up for the same game just 14 times. And yet there they are, atop the Eastern Conference standings and appear to pose the greatest threat to Milwaukee’s reign atop the East. And with four of the next five at home, Miami, one of the league’s winningest teams at home this season, is poised to surge ahead and make a legit run at finishing the season with the best record in the Eastern Conference.