For years, comparisons have been drawn between Denver Nuggets‘ reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid. Fans at Ball Arena have salivated at the thought of the two supernovas colliding for a once-in-a-lifetime matchup but few have actually witnessed the two face each other straight up.
Embiid missed the most recent clash with Jokic due to health and safety protocols but there is little reason why Embiid would want any piece of the volcano bubbling up out of the Rocky Mountains as Jokic continues his dominance this season.
The Sixers are no doubt satisfied with the production they’ve gotten out of Embiid despite seeing his averages dip so far across the board in the nine games he’s played. Jokic, however, is once again redefining the position and separating himself as one of the best to ever do it since Bird or Chamberlain.
Nikola Jokic has boosted his rebounding numbers from last season, currently averaging 13.8 total rebounds a game and leading the Nuggets to top-three defensive numbers so far on the young season. After Jokic’s MVP performance last season, many doubted Jokic could duplicate his 2020-21 production but he’s seemingly taken his game to the next level.
Durability is the factor that is separating Jokic from Embiid right now, and some Nuggets fans would argue Jokic’s talent has surpassed that of The Process.
The Big Honey has started at least 70 games for four years running and is on pace to make it five years in a row, while Embiid struggles to start 50 games. Jokic is a horse, and the Nuggets seem to only need him more as his tenure in Denver continues.
In the wake of the Ben Simmons drama, Embiid will be counted on to keep the 76ers afloat in the East but Jokic is putting his stamp on the 2021-22 season early.
The last time Jokic and Embiid matched up was 10 Dec. 2019 and it looks like fans will have to wait another four months until the Nuggets travel to Philadelphia on March 14 to get their Jokic-Embiid fix.
Jokic has averaged 21.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in the five games against Embiid in his career, while Embiid holds averages of 19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in his five clashes against the MVP.
Embiid is productive, but Jokic has taken his game to new heights.
The Serbian is coming off a season-high in points in the loss to the Dallas Mavericks after dumping in 35 against Luka Doncic and company. The Joker is fired up to prove last year’s MVP award was no fluke and the Nuggets are a class above even playoff teams in the East.
The 76ers might have won this matchup, but the real battle is next time, when the MVP-caliber centers duel in March.