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Who Is Leading The NBA MVP Race?

Harry Murphy

Nikola Jokic Celebrating in the 2021 NBA Season.

With less than ten games left in the NBA Season, it would be impossible to create substantial change in the race for MVP, so it is fair ground to assess the legitimacy of MVP campaigns at this point. For the most part, the pre-season expected candidates are the ones in the race for the NBA’s premier individual award. The five top players for this year’s MVP will likely be Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Jason Tatum. 

While it is never safe to call something a lock, Nikola Jokic currently holds odds as low as -10,000 on SportsBooks, and deservedly so. The Denver Nuggets find themselves atop the Western Conference standings with an impressive 54-24 record and are not experiencing a post-championship hangover or slump. They are playing with the same beautiful basketball centered around their offensive engine, Nikola Jokic. Jokic is averaging an absurdly efficient 26, 12, and 9, continuing his stat line stuffing from his two previous MVP seasons. Jokic remains a truly top-notch scorer, his mix of three-level scoring and exceptional efficiency is something to behold. The magnum opus of Jokic’s game is his transcendental passing and playmaking ability. His mix of fundamental mastery and circus trick, no look ability is unmatched, and nobody can reasonably claim to be in the same stratosphere as Jokic as a passer. In addition, pairing his passing toolkit and scoring excellence makes him and the Nuggets offense impossible to stop. Leaving Jokic one-on-one will ultimately result in a bucket, and good luck doubling him without him finding the open man instantly. Though the fact that he is a negative defensive presence remains, his stellar offense has proven to overcome that in his past two MVP wins and NBA Championship win last season. In recent years, many have failed to win MVP three seasons in a row: Giannis in 2022, Curry in 2017, Lebron in 2011 and 2014, and Jokic last year. While Jokic joined that club, he is more than likely joining Lebron James, Michael Jordan, and a few others as an NBA MVP winner who wins again after being dethroned. 

Though Jokic is going to receive the most votes from the distinguished voting pool, other players have had reputable seasons that challenged Jokic’s case throughout the year. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is leading the Thunder to a potential one-seed after being tenth last season while averaging 30, 5, and 6. Jason Tatum is averaging 27, 8, and 5 with stellar defense and leading the Celtics to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo is having a typical season, averaging 31, 12, and 7 alongside DPOY-caliber defensive play. Lastly, Luka Doncic was the favorite for many at some point throughout the season due to his 34, 9, and 10 stat line, rivaling the best; however, the Mavericks' unspectacular record was the fatal blow for his chances.


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