Jokic and Embiid crowned as January’s Players of the Month as they battle for the league’s MVP
Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Sixers’ Joel Embiid have won the awards for the NBA’s Player of The Month in each of their respective conferences this January, as both centers fiercely battle for the first two spots upon the Kia MVP Ladder.
Curiously, this was the third monthly award they both win during the competition in January. Their New Year’s resolution must be something else!
This is the first time this season the Serbian wins the monthly award and only the fifth time in his career. The two-time league’s MVP has averaged a triple-double during January with 24.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game.
The Nuggets center joined legend Wilt Chamberlain in the history books as the only centers throughout the NBA to record 8+ triple-doubles in a single month. His latest triple-double track this campaign is his 16th, the highest amount in the league. The Joker led Denver to a 10-2 record in the 12 games he participated in January (he was injured during three matches) as the Nuggets currently rank No. 1 in the West with a 35-16 record.
Jokic’s best performance was probably his 36-point game against the Trail Blazers on January 17th, as he also added 12 rebounds, handed out 10 assists and added both a steal and a block to his tally.
Watch his game against Portland as he was 13-of-14 from the field, 1-of-2 from three, and 9-of-10 from the line:
As for Embiid, he took home the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Month award for a second month in a row, and the sixth of his career. The Philadelphia big man achieved the best scoring stats of the month with 34.9 points per game, and averaged 10.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.6 blocks in his ten January matches.
The French international dropped 30+ points in 9 of these 10 games, leading Philly to the best record in the NBA, with 11 wins and 3 defeats. This means the 76ers are currently 33-17, the East’s No. 3 seed.
The other nominees for the West’s Player of The Month are Minnesota;’s Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis from Sacramento, Thunder’s superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, veteran legend LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard also from Los Angeles, 60-pointer Damian Lillard and Utah’s Lauri Markkanen.
The Eastern’s candidates were Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Giannis Antetokounmpo from Milwaukee, the Knicks’ Jalen Brunson, Darius Garland from the Cavs, currently on-fire Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Jayson Tatum.
Joel Embiid boosts his case in the Kia MVP Ladder, but remains at No. 2
As both players were awarded for their great month, Embiid is proving a stronger case to contend for this year’s Kia MVP Ladder. He is stepping on the Serbian’s heels now, still in the second position, but closer every week. Is this a deja-vu from last year’s race?
The debate arose to its highest point last weekend when Philadelphia faced off with Denver in Pennsylvania. In their victory over the Nuggets, Embiid became just the 10th player in NBA history to produce 47 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in a game to create his ninth 40-point performance of the 2022-23 season and 35th of his career. It was madness!
Here are ESPN Stephen A. Smith’s words over who’s the best center in the league right now:
As Jokic clings to the No. 1 spot in this week’s race, Embiid holds steady at No. 2. After Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 54-point game against the LA Clippers on Thursday, he returns to the Ladder’s third place. This means Jayson Tatum fell back to the league’s fourth best and Luka Doncic completes the Top 5.
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