MVP Race: James Harden’s shooting struggles create opening for others

Each week, HoopsHype ranks the Top 10 candidates for this season’s Most Valuable Player award. This list highlights stars who are performing at an elite level and putting themselves in the mix for the award.

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With just over 20 games remaining, it’s becoming clear who has a legitimate shot at the MVP trophy. Here are our latest rankings:

10. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

STATS: 27.3 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.9 bpg, 48.2 FG%

The Sixers are currently 39-22, which puts them in the East’s fourth seed. However, after the midseason acquisitions of Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanović and James Ennis, this team is better than their record indicates and nobody will want to run into them come playoff time.

The talent around Embiid may actually be hurting his MVP candidacy since voters may feel he has more help than the current front-runners. Fair or not, that may be why Embiid isn’t getting more MVP love. It’s a good problem to have, though, and how far Philadelphia can advance this postseason will likely come down to how quickly they can jell and get everyone on the same page.

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Embiid has been excellent this season and, as he deals with a sore left knee, teammates have pointed out how much they’ve missed him over the last three games that he’s sat out. Fortunately, his MRI showed there is no structural damage and he’s expected to return relatively soon.

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