October 2, 2023

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons named as finalists for 2 huge awards


Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Both of Philadelphia 76ers’ All-Stars are, not surprisingly, finalists for two of the NBA’s most prestigious awards.

Joel Embiid is an MVP finalist and Ben Simmons is a Defensive Player of the Year finalist. The league announced its finalists for six awards Thursday night on NBA on TNT’s pregame show. 

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was not a top-three finisher for Coach of the Year. The full list of finalists is below:

Per an NBA press release, TNT will announce the winner of each award during its NBA playoff coverage. The Sixers’ first-round series will begin Sunday afternoon. 

Here’s a look at what Embiid and Simmons did to earn being finalists: 

Ben Simmons

Opponents shot 40.2% when defended by Simmons, the third-lowest mark of all players who guarded at least 400 field goals. Other Sixer Matisse Thybulle was first in that category at 37.2%. Among the high-level players Simmons defended impressively this season were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Pascal Siakam, and Luka Doncic. 

Simmons tied for third in total deflections with Thybulle (202) and was ninth in steals per game (1.6). He’s a big reason why the Sixers finished No. 2 in defensive rating. 

Both Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green are prior DPOY winners. Simmons, who finished fourth in the voting last year, has combined exceptional physical talents with exemplary commitment and tenacity to become a Defensive Player of the Year contender this season.

Joel Embiid

Embiid, who was not even a member of any All-NBA team last season, is now an MVP finalist. He’s had a special season, the best by a Sixer since the good ol’ days of Allen Iverson.

There’s no doubt Embiid has been one of the league’s three most valuable players. He averaged 28.5 points on a 63.6 true shooting percentage and 10.6 rebounds. His 10.7 free throws per game led the NBA, and his 85.9% from the foul line was the best of his career.

The Sixers were 10-11 in the 21 games Embiid was not playing. They’re clearly at their best when he’s available, but the 10 games he missed following a left knee bone bruise suffered on March 12 might ultimately cost him the award.

Jokic, who posted 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists for the number three seed Denver Nuggets, was tremendous throughout the season and also played in all 72 of the Nuggets’ games. The Nuggets went 13-5 after Jamal Murray’s season-ending ACL tear. 

Curry, a historically great shooter, recorded a league-leading 32.0 points per game and made 42.1% of his three-point shots. Whether his attempts are wide-open or tightly contested does not seem to matter when he’s in the zone, as the Sixers saw when he scored 49 points against them in April. 

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