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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid named NBA’s 2022-23 MVP

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Barclays Center on April 20, 2023 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers has been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2022-23 season.

Embiid beat out the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić in a battle between three of the NBA’s premier big men for the inaugural Michael Jordan trophy.

Embiid averaged a league-high 33.1 points per game during the regular season to go along with 10.2 rebounds per game.

This is the first career MVP award for Embiid, the first ever awarded to a player from Cameroon and just the second time for a player from Africa. This is also the fifth consecutive season that an international player has won the award.

Embiid has missed the 76ers’ last two games with a knee injury and hasn’t played a game since April 20. 76ers’ coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday that Embiid is considered “doubtful” for Philadelphia’s Game 2 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday.

The Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Dončić and the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum have previously topped the NBA’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder, but the pair’s performances have tailed off towards the back end of the season — leaving the three players to battle it out this season.

Embiid has missed out on the MVP trophy and a spot in the All-NBA First Team for the past two seasons, thanks to Jokić’s supremacy and NBA voting stipulations.

This comes after the center topped the charts last year, becoming the first player at the position since four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal to win the scoring title and the first center to average over moire than 30 points per game in 40 years — Embiid averaged 30.6 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry previously said that this jump is the reason why Embiid should be crowned MVP.

Asked by Bleacher Report about his pick for the award, the two-time MVP said: “I would say Joel [Embiid].”

“Joel took a leap that I think a lot of people didn’t expect because he was dominant already,” Curry continued. “That leap turned heads and put [the Sixers] in a great position. If I had to pick, it would be him.”