Los 40 USA
Sign in to commentAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


Nets’ Kevin Durant believes the 76ers’ Joel Embiid is a worthy MVP choice this season

From personality, to narrative, to going bigger and better, the Nets’ big man gave a variety of opinions on the MVP race and the voting process that goes with it.

Paul Rudder
Nets’ Kevin Durant believes the 76ers’ Joel Embiid is a worthy MVP choice this season
Dustin SatloffGetty Images

With the 76ers big man having previously floated the idea that he’s a worth candidate for the league’s MVP award, it’s interesting to see a former recipient back him up.

Kevin Durant backs Joel Embiid for MVP award

Earlier this season Embiid admitted that he was disappointed by the way in which he believes he is viewed by some voters. Interestingly, it’s an idea that Nets star Kevin Durant thinks carries weight. “It’s unfortunate,” Durant said. “There’s a lot of players that have been controlled by their narrative. Some of it has been because of the player, some of it just has been because of the perception of other people about that player. In Joel’s case, more people just like Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and [Nikola] Jokic. It’s as simple as that. They just prefer them more than Embiid’s personality or his story, I guess.”

Durant went on to add that in his opinion if one considers things from a basketball point of view, Embiid’s numbers are simply superior, even when factoring in Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, the man most fans believe will win his second consecutive MVP title this season.

Does Kevin Durant have a point?

As he continued Durant pointed to the idea of personality and how he believes it can affect voting. “As a basketball player, people that look at just the game and what happens on the floor, narratives and who you are and your personality, that stuff really doesn’t matter,” Durant said. “It shouldn’t matter when it comes down to awards like that. But [with] Joel, [voters] probably just like those other guys better than you personally. That’s not fair at all, but that’s just usually how it goes sometimes. But if I had a vote, I would choose Joel.”

Twice as nice: How to win consecutive MVP awards

When asked about what it takes to win back to back MVP titles, Durant made it clear that a player has simply got to be bigger and better in their performances if they hope to win consecutive awards. “I feel like if you’re going to win back-to-back MVPs - like look at Steph Curry,” Durant said of the Golden State Warriors’ star guard who won back-to-back MVPs in 2015 and 2016. “He averaged what his first MVP, like 23 points, seven rebounds, but his next one he stepped up such another level - if you’re going to get two in a row, you can’t duplicate the same thing you did before, in my opinion. That’s just how I feel. I’m not saying this is the holy grail. I’m saying this is how I feel.

“If you were to say Steph come back the next year when they won 73 games and average 23 points again, it just wouldn’t hit that well. [To] get two in a row, you got to go up and do something way bigger and better than you did before, in my opinion. If you’re going to get it. If you’re going to do the same thing you did before, you might as well go ahead and have another winner. So I think back-to-back MVPs are special and the season that you have to have team-wise, individual-wise, all has to come together in order for you to win back-to-back [MVPs] in my opinion. So I feel like Jokic has an incredible season, but Joel’s season was just as good, if not better. So I think he deserves MVP in my opinion.”

What does Kevin Durant think about himself?

When asked to give a view of his own season, Durant disclosed that he thought his name was worthy of being up for consideration, but at the same time had no issue with the notion that the MCL injury which cost him almost two months on the sideline earlier this year, more or less derailed those hopes. “I see why I’m not in that conversation,” Durant said. “But I’m sure there’s a lot of guys in the league that play MVP-caliber basketball for their clubs. That help their clubs reach heights that they probably reach this year [without them], but when it comes to the whole league, there’s just so many great players playing right now, it’s hard to choose. But I can really say, it’s 10 or 12 of us maybe that can be in that conversation. That’s pretty cool to see that in our league.”

Nets coach Steve Nash weighs in on the MVP debate

Having won back to back MVP awards as a player with the Phoenix Suns in 2005 and 2006, Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash is perhaps well positioned to give an opinion on just who is worthy and what it takes to win. Indeed, Nash was actually quick to echo the sentiments of his play. “Kevin would be my MVP for sure,” Nash said. “I don’t know how many games someone has to play to be it, but obviously I just think Kevin’s incredible, what he does, and what he’s able to do to affect the game in so many different ways.”

As he continued, Nash also addressed Durant’s point about what is required to win two consecutive MVP titles and of course touched on his own achievement of the feat. “A lot of it is circumstantial,” Nash said. “Is the time, the year, the story, the narrative. My best year was the third year [in 2007] and Dirk got MVP. Every year there’s always a case for someone else so it’s just not a linear thing where the best player gets it every single year. It’s always kind of more, how does the season go? How many games did they miss? Who else had an exceptional year? What’s the narrative? So it’s one of those things that’s not linear.

Kevin Durant believes It’s about the ‘narrative’

If there is one thing that is clear in Durant’s mind, it’s that the key to winning the MVP award is the narrative that surrounds each player across the season. Incidentally, that’s a sentiment that is shared by many. “I had this conversation last night with a couple friends,” Durant said. “I’m not huge into narratives and I feel like that’s the main factor in winning MVP. Because when you look at all of these guys’ numbers, and their team records, it’s all pretty incredible -- that three or four guys on that list are averaging 26, 27 a game. Rebounds and assists numbers are up. Their team numbers are 15 to 20 games over .500.

Durant continued, as he discussed the difficulty involved in separating the pack. “When you’ve got four or five guys like that it’s tough to choose an MVP. So it’s always probably going to be about a preference about who you want personally, individually, what story fits the best for you as a voter. Because when you break down all the factors, it’s way bigger than basketball at this point.” Asked if the league itself should vote on the best player each year and Durant was quick with his response, “But who defines the best player?” he said. “What do you look at as your best player? What’s the criteria for you as a best player? Everybody’s is different. People view the game different. They consume the game different. It makes them feel a certain way. Certain stories hit them a little different than other stories. It’s mainly, like, who are these guys picking? Who are making these decisions? That should be the question.”

In the end, the former league MVP admitted that he was unsure as to what the proper solution to the ‘problem’ was, but felt that a review was in order, which could potentially see a combination of players, media and executives voting for the award. “Obviously a lot of people don’t like the criteria right now,” Durant said. “So something should change, right? We’ll see. It’s a good conversation to have for basketball fans.”