What Is the Most Number of Games Missed by an NBA MVP?

What Is the Most Number of Games Missed by an NBA MVP?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

It’s been a rough stretch for the Philadelphia 76ers, battling through missed games by key players. The 76ers have lost four in a row and slipped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference, lowering their odds to win the title on PA sports betting apps.

However, the biggest issue for the Sixers – and for the NBA – is the status of defending league Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid.

Embiid, slowed by a knee injury, took heat when the Sixers announced minutes before Saturday’s game in Denver - a much-anticipated marquee matchup with the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic – that he wouldn’t be playing. He also missed Monday’s game in Portland.

The league said it would conduct an investigation regarding the late timing of Embiid’s scratch. This season, the league also has instituted a rule that stipulates a player must log 20 minutes in 65 of the 82 regular-season played to qualify for end-of-the season accolades.

So, were either of those developments a factor in Embiid playing against the Golden State Warriors? In the game, Embiid returned to the game and looked nowhere near his dominant self. Just four minutes into the game, he collided with the Warriors’ Jonathan Kuminga and fell to the floor, holding his knee and writhing in pain. He went to the locker room and did not return.

Embiid has had an MRI exam, but no results have been communicated yet.

The whole scenario made us think here at PennStakes.com, your source for Pennsylvania sports betting, about the history of NBA MVPs and games played. Utilizing Statmuse.com, PennStakes compiled a list of the fewest number of games played by MVP in a regular season. Here are the award-winning numbers:

Fewest Games Played by an NBA MVP

PlayerSeasonGames Played
Karl Malone1989-9049
Bill Walton1977-7858
LeBron James2011-1262
Giannis Antetokounmpo2019-2063
Bob Cousy1956-5764
Joel Embiid2022-2366


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Crunching the MVP Numbers

With the new rule in place, Embiid can miss only five more games this season. The Sixers have 37 games remaining. He currently is on a pace to play 61, which is short of the threshold of 65. Ironically, Embiid won the award playing one more game (66) than the new league rule instituted this year.

Utah Jazz power forward and Hall of Famer Karl Malone topped the list, playing in just 49 games to win the award in the 1989-1990 season. In fact, our research shows five MVPs have played less than 65 games in a season.

According to BetMGM Sportsbook PA late Wednesday, Embiid has slipped to fifth on the MVP odds board. He is at +1500, trailing two-time league MVP Jokic (-125),  Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+300), Luka Doncic of Dallas (+500)  and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+700). The Sixers are seven games behind the first-place Boston Celtics in the Atlantic Division and in the East, and have fallen to third in the division behind the Knicks.

Last week, Embiid earned his seventh straight All-Star selection and was voted a starter in the 73rd edition to be played in Indianapolis on Feb. 18 in his best start to a season thus far.

Through 34 games played, Embiid is averaging a league- and career-best 35.3 points per game. He also is posting career numbers in free throws made per game and free throw percentage (88.7%).

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Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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