Heat check: Is Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic having the better season?

Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid (Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers)

Two of the NBA's most exciting big men have been putting in that work this season.

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Ever since last season, these two have been mentioned as a part of the best players in the league conversation, and while Joel Embiid led the MVP race for a time, it was the Nuggets' Nikola Jokic who was named the 2020-21 winner. 

On Sunday against the Nets, Jokic recorded his 14th triple-double of the season, finishing with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, while Embiid had another monster 40-point double-double in the 76ers win over the Bulls, ending the night with 40 points and 10 rebounds. 

This season it seems like these two have elevated their games and we, the fans, are better for it.

Both guys are very enjoying tremendous seasons, and are on course to get their respective teams into the top four seedings of their conferences to potentially make deep playoff runs which begs the question: Which big man is having the better season so far? 

Nick Metallinos (@nickmetallinos): 

Asking me who is having the better season is like asking me which is my favorite Jay Z album. One day I might tell you Reasonable Doubt, another day American Gangster. What these guys are doing this season has been nothing short of spectacular and my opinion on who's having a better season changes weekly it seems.

Some days I think Joel Embiid is the best player in the world, other days Nikola Jokic's skill has me so amazed I think he is the best.

Jokic has had notched 14 triple-doubles this season and if he persists the way he's going, he will finish with the highest PER single-season rating in history (currently at 33.16) ... but the Nuggets are in sixth in the West. 

Embiid, on the other hand, is single-handedly dragging Philly as close to the top of the East as he can get. He's had seven 40-point games this season alone (13 in his previous five seasons combined), he's won back-to-back Player of the Month awards, and is averaging a career-high in assists and career-low in turnovers. 

Since I'm being asked this question today I'm going with Embiid (Reasonable Doubt) over Jokic (American Gangster), but that could change. 

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): 

What initially felt like a difficult decision really wasn't that difficult at all.

It's Jokic.

Thinking back to last season, Jokic finished first in MVP voting while Embiid was runner-up. Both centers are even better than they were last season but because Jokic has improved just as much as Embiid – if not more – the gap remains between the two.

Put it this way: Embiid has done things this season that make me believe he is the most dominant player in the league. Jokic, on the other hand, is doing things that have made me wonder whether or not he's the best overall player in the NBA.

That said, I'm not even putting Embiid down here, it's just the fact that Jokic has been so good. Like, historically good.
A second MVP could be on the way.

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): 

Both players have the unenviable task of leading their depleted teams this season and it's their elite play that's made both the Nuggets and 76ers stay alive in their respective playoff races. 

I feel like I've run out of superlatives for Jokic,  as he continues to produce plays few in the NBA could muster, but I've got to give the nod to Embiid just, due to the fact the 76ers, without their second-best player in Ben Simmons are somehow fourth in the Eastern Conference, just 1.5 games out of the top seed. 

None of that is possible without Embiid playing at a superhuman level, who has boosted not only his scoring production, but his playmaking, which has trickled down to elevate the likes of Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry and Matisse Thybulle.  

At this rate, the MVP race is going to come down to these two big men once again. Embiid's health cost him a real shot at the award in 2020-21, but this season the 76ers big man has been consistent and looks like the best player in the league.

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