The NBA announced today that Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in December and January.
In his fifth NBA season, it’s Embiid’s second career Player of the Month selection. Embiid joins Hall of Famers Allen Iverson (four times), Charles Barkley (twice), Moses Malone (twice) and Julius Erving (three times) as the only 76ers players to win the award multiple times.
In 16 games between December and January, Embiid averaged 28.3 points (fourth in the NBA, second in the East), 11.1 rebounds (ninth in the NBA, sixth in the East), 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game. He was one of three NBA players to average 25 points and 10 rebounds through the season’s first month-plus, joining Western Conference Player of the Month Nikola Jokić and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 76ers were 14-2 in Embiid’s 16 games and are 15-6 overall on the season, leading the Eastern Conference.
Embiid scored in double figures in 13 of his 14 games, including two 40-plus point performances and a team-best 12 double-doubles. He’s the only player in the NBA with multiple 40-point, 10-rebound double-doubles. Embiid made 152 free throws during the season’s first month-plus, ranking second in the NBA, while leading the league in free throws made (9.5) and attempted per game (11.3). He was the only player in the league to make 16 free throws in multiple games. Iverson and Malone are the only 76ers ever to make at least nine free throws per game for an entire season.
Between Jan. 20-29, over a five-game span, Embiid averaged 35.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, while shooting .560 from the field and .429 from three-point range as the team went a perfect 5-0. He became just the third 76er ever to average 35 points and 10 rebounds over a five-game stretch, joining Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Barkley.
On Jan. 12 vs. Miami, Embiid tallied a season-high 45 points (16-23 FG, 13-13 FT), 16 rebounds, four assists and a career-high five steals in the team’s 137-134 overtime victory. It was his ninth career 40-point, 10-rebound game, adding his 10th such performance eight days later on Jan. 20 vs. Boston. In that game against the Celtics, Embiid had a game-high 42 points (12-19 FG, 17-21 FT) to go along with 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 117-109 win. He committed just one turnover in the contest. Embiid scored 38 points on both Jan. 6 and Jan. 22 against Washington and Boston, respectively. In the Washington game, he added a game-high-tying eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.
Jokić wins the award for the first time in his career and becomes the first Nugget to win since Carmelo Anthony in 2009 (Oct./Nov). Jokić joins Anthony, Fat Lever and Alex English as the only players in franchise history to be honored as Player of the Month.
Jokić, 25, averaged 27.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.80 steals while shooting .565 from the field, .381 from three-point range and .849 from the charity stripe in the month of January. In four games in December, he averaged 24.5 points, 13.5 assists, 11.5 rebounds and 1.50 steals, shooting .625 from the field and .400 from three. He helped lead the Nuggets to an 11-5 January, including a 7-2 road record, where currently they sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with a 12-8 record.
Jokić recorded five triple doubles, ranking second in the NBA, and had five games with 35+ points and 10+ rebounds. He also has posted a double-double in all 20 games, becoming the second player since 1976 to have a double-double in each of the first 20 games (Bill Walton). For the second time in his career, Jokić averaged at least 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting above 55.0% from the field in the month of January (min. 10 games) and is the only center since 1983 to record those numbers.
January was highlighted with a win vs. Utah on 1/31, where he tied a career-high 47 points (17-26 FG’s), 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 37 minutes, becoming the first Nugget to ever post those numbers. He scored 22 points in the first quarter and 33 points in the first half. It was the most points in a first half for a Nugget since 2007 (Iverson) and both were career-highs in any single quarter or half. Jokić had another huge performance at Phoenix on 1/23 on the second night of a back-to-back, finishing with 29 points (11-14 FT’s), a career-high 22 rebounds, six assists and one steal in 42 minutes. He started the season by recording a triple double in four of the first six games, including his performance on opening night vs. Sacramento where he posted 29 points, 15 rebounds, 14 assists and two blocks in 42 minutes. Jokić became one of five players all-time to record 350 points, 125 rebounds and 125 assists in the first 15 games of a season.
The Sombor, Serbia native, was named Western Conference Player of the Week in consecutive weeks to close out January. Amongst Western Conference players, he ranks first in PER, second in steals per game, second in total assists, third in points per game, fourth in assists per game and fourth in rebounds per game. In 20 games this season, Jokić is averaging 26.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.75 steals, shooting .574 from the field and .384 from three in 35.8 minutes.