Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Wells Fargo Center on December 11, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images


  • George Karl is still taking Nikola Jokic over Joel Embiid in the NBA MVP race
  • "I can only like one big guy, and I take Jokic over Embiid," Karl says
  • This season's MVP race may be the most tightly contested since the 2004-05 season

The race for NBA MVP has hit a fever pitch recently after Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is now ahead of Denver Nuggets big man and back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic according to the latest MVP ladder.

But in the eyes of basketball Hall of Fame coach George Karl, Embiid remains lacking in one area that he believes is preventing Embiid from outright snatching the title from Jokic this season.

Speaking with SiriusXM NBA Radio, Karl prefaced his statements by saying that he did not want to bad mouth Embiid before he went on to explain what he sees as a blemish.

"I don't wanna bad mouth Embiid because I think he's really, really good. A lot of my assistant coaches were in Philadelphia when he was a young player, and they kept telling me he was going to be the best big guy ever to play the game," Karl said on the show.

"I see him moving in that direction, but I don't know. He takes too many possession off. He has lazy body language. He gets angry at things that we don't understand why... I can only like one big guy, and I take Jokic over Embiid."

It is worth noting that Karl has close ties to the Nuggets organization after serving as their head coach from the 2004-05 to 2012-13 seasons, logging an overall coaching record of 423-249 which is good for a winning percentage of 62.2.

Karl was the architect of those mid-2000s to early 2010s teams that saw the rise of names such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Andersen (better known as "Birdman"), J.R. Smith and Brazilian big man Nene.

Fans were quick to call him out on choosing Jokic over Embiid due to his tenure with the Nuggets, stating that he has "no [credibility] on this subject" and a couple of others going so far off the deep end as to insinuate that it had something to do with the color of Embiid and Jokic's skin.

Embiid has certainly been a dominant force on both ends of the floor for the Sixers this season, averaging 33.5 points (career-high) on 54.6 percent from the field, 10.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.7 blocks in 57 games played.

For defending MVP Jokic, he is well on his way to averaging a triple-double with 24.8 points at an eye-watering 63.3 percent (career-high), 11.8 rebounds, 9.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks in the 63 games that he has appeared in.

The reason why the MVP award is so heavily debated is that there is no clear-cut definition of what an MVP is.

Generally, player stats and team success are the two most dominant factors in MVP selection while other variables such as games played and narrative are distant secondary factors.

FanDuel has Embiid (plus-100) slightly ahead of Jokic (plus-160) in the MVP race and that number is expected to fluctuate all the way through the end of the regular season.

When it is all said and done, the race for the 2022-23 NBA MVP may be the tightest one since Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Nash duked it out in the 2004-05 season.

Nash went on to win the award by a slim margin of 2.6 percent over O'Neal, claiming the coveted award by just 34 points (1,066 to O'Neal's 1,032).

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets complains about a call against the Golden State Warriors in the second half during Game Two of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at Chase Center on April 18 in San Francisco. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images