Philadelphia 76ers All-Star C Joel Embiid is expected to return to the lineup Saturday vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported late Wednesday night. Embiid has been sidelined for three weeks due to a knee injury. Barring a setback, Embiid will return to the starting lineup. Prior to the injury, Embiid was the favorite to win NBA MVP this season.
Embiid had overtaken LeBron James as the favorite to win MVP after a massive performance against the Utah Jazz. The Sixers All-Star was injured shortly after and LeBron James went back to being favored before he also went down with an ankle injury. With both sidelined, Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic jumped up to favorite and is currently No. 1 at -113 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Brooklyn Nets G James Harden is up to second in odds at +500 with Embiid at +650.
Prior to the Sixers’ current two-game skid, the team had gone 6-1 with Embiid out of the lineup. Does that hurt his case for MVP upon return? Well, it certainly doesn’t help unless Embiid can come back and dominate again. We should see Dwight Howard head back to the bench if Embiid returns. Howard should still be a viable fantasy basketball option in the short term given Embiid could be on a minutes limit early on in his return.