There are three players this season, with around 10 games remaining, that have a realistic shot at earning NBA MVP.
Lebron James just hasn’t won enough games, and nor has Luka Doncic, to spark any interest in MVP voters. DeMar DeRozan’s incredible season has taken a step back in recent weeks while KD, Tatum, Booker, and CP3 have other players who have contributed enough to deem them less valuable than the main three candidates.
Even Ja Morant, who has done everything we’ve asked of a young player leading a franchise hasn’t quite done enough to warrant an MVP award. Here are the realistic candidates ranked from lowest chance to best chance to win the NBA MVP award.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis is the no-doubt best player on the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee sits in the mix of retaining a first-round home-court advantage and possibly more than that as the Bucks, Sixers, and Celtics all sit within just a half-game of one another in the two through four seeds in the Eastern Conference.
He’s played in the majority of the games so far this season, missing around 10.
Though fellow teammates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are combining for 40 points a game, Giannis scores 30 a game by himself which is right now tied for best in the league. He also averages 5.8 assists a game, second-best on the team behind the point guard Holiday.
The Greek Freak sits fifth in rebounds per game in the league as well while scoring at efficient rates. He’s 10th in the league in field goal percentage, and he’s a star player who takes a lot of shots.
Giannis is a two-time NBA MVP, and this season is close to identical to his other award-winning years. So based on that, he should be a serious candidate.
2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Though the Nuggets, led by the Joker, haven’t won as many games as Milwaukee, and are the current seven seed, losing the icebreaker to the sixth-placed Minnesota Timberwolves, the Nuggets are in prime position to compete in the playoffs once again. They have only won a couple of games less than Milwaukee despite being five seeds lower than them in their respective conference.
Jokic has had to play the whole season without fellow stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., both of who have been out all season due to injury. The second-leading scorer on Denver’s roster is Will Barton, at 14.6 a game. Clearly, Jokic has been carrying.
He’s missed just seven games and has an absurd usage rate of 31.6%. He’s scoring 26 a game, ninth in the league; he’s dishing out eight assists a game, seventh in the league, and he’s grabbing more than 13 boards a game which is second only behind Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
Oh right, he’s also top 20 in steals and top 10 in field goal percentage. Jokic does it all, which is reflected in his 58 double-doubles and 18 triple-doubles just this season. Jokic has the Nuggets where nobody thought they’d be without two of their top three players as he strives for a repeat NBA MVP award.
1. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The Process is the only one of these three candidates that have not yet won an NBA MVP award. He’s had fantastic seasons before but never has it all come together quite like it has for the majority of this season.
This has been one of Embiid’s healthiest years, missing around just 10 games so far this season. His usage rate is off the charts, sitting at 37.1%, meaning the Sixers really depend on him to succeed.
He’s tied for the league lead in points per game as a more traditional center but is also shooting a respectable 35% from behind the arc to keep teams honest. Embiid also currently sits in eighth for rebounds per game.
Embiid’s defense is what sets him apart from Jokic, the other center candidate. Embiid is currently in 10th for blocks per game.
Like Jokic, Joel hasn’t really had much help and has led the Sixers to compete for a top-four seed and home-court advantage in at least the first round. Unlike Giannis, who sits just above him in the Eastern Conference standings, Joel played much of the season without a star until Ben Simmons was eventually delt for James Harden.
Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey can combine for 35 points a game, but they don’t have anyone really helping in the paint defensively or offensively. He anchors them, leading the usual starters in field goal percentage.
What separates him from other bigs is also the incredible free throw numbers he’s improved over his career. Right now he shoots it at an 82% clip from the line.
Joel hasn’t won an MVP Award yet, and perhaps this is the year that trusting the process finally comes to fruition for both Embiid and the city of Philadelphia.
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