I hope you all like basketball because it will dominate over the next few weeks, and rightfully so. The NBA trade deadline is coming up, March Madness is beginning, and the race for the playoffs really begins to tighten up right around this time.
The NBA has been a blast to watch so far this season, and we have seen some surprising teams take the steps they’ve needed to take to become contenders like the Utah Jazz and the New York Knicks. All in all, it has been a blast to see some of these teams get better and see the play on the court of some of the superstars in the NBA.
With that being said, one thing that will be highly contested and debated time and time again will be who should win the MVP. It seems like awards in the NBA are beginning to get more contentious every year. It really started with the Ben Simmons vs. Donovan Mitchell Rookie of the Year conversation, and it got worse after last year when LeBron James was clearly upset that he didn’t win the MVP.
With a couple of excellent candidates running this season, I think this will be similar to the presidential election. In this article, I want to break down a couple of the top candidates who could win the award. I am even going to throw in one guy who maybe isn’t at the top of anyone’s list right now but could make a push depending on how well his team does or doesn’t do.
Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
Jokic has been like the Joker this year: a madman. He is getting it all done for the Denver Nuggets, who are certainly looking to make another push to the Western Conference Finals this season. I really love Jokic because, in an era where it seems like the Big Man in the NBA is no longer as pivotal, he is changing people’s minds. Jokic is averaging 26.9 points while shooting over 56 percent from the floor and bringing down 11 rebounds and eight assists per game. This dude is seriously doing it all, and I have a hard time arguing with anyone why he should be in the number one spot.
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
I am bummed about this one because Embiid was having such an incredible year, and now that he suffered an injury a week ago, he is prone to miss some time, and the MVP voters hate when that happens. There will be a point where Embiid misses more than 10-15 games, he will be eliminated from MVP talks. It sucks, but it is true. This guy is averaging a double-double while also putting up blocks and assists and has the 76ers playing with more urgency this season than in years past. I was skeptical over the Doc Rivers hire there, but it seems like it is working out perfectly right now.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Of course, there is no NBA MVP list without the best player in the NBA. Antetokounmpo does not have the season he had last year, but it is still impressive and has to do with the fact that the Bucks actually put some guys around him, and he isn’t doing everything on his own anymore. He is averaging 29.1 points with 11.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists. The Bucks are not at the top of the Eastern Conference, and for that reason, it will probably hurt his chances quite a bit. The Bucks have gone on a bit of a tear in the last few weeks, and if they do recapture that top seed and head back to the playoffs in the driver’s seat in the East, I think his chances will start to skyrocket. Embiid’s injury directly impacts his stock.
LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers
Again, how can we make this list and not put LeBron on it? I actually don’t get the argument that people make that Lebron should be a really high seed. In fact, I think that is really a bunch of bogus, and I don’t like the notion at all. Compared to the other three guys on this list, Lebron has lower averages than all of them. Anthony Davis has missed some significant time, and so I will give Lebron the benefit of the doubt that he is helping to carry this team, but this isn’t like his old teams that haven’t had a lot of talent, and the Lakers have shown some serious struggles this season. Lebron deserves to be on this list, but I don’t think he should be any higher than a four or a five on it.
James Harden – Brooklyn Nets
There is a lot of hate right now regarding James Harden, and I can completely understand why people are upset and don’t want to root for him right now. But what he has done since he got to Brooklyn is amazing. Even without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on many nights, the James Harden Nets have been really fun to watch, and he is a big reason for that. Since coming to Brooklyn, he is averaging 25.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 11.3 assists per game.
The Longshot: Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
So here is the guy that won’t get the love he deserves because, if we are honest, he never has, but Damian Lillard should absolutely be in talks. The Blazers may not be top three in the Western Conference right now, but have you seen what their roster has looked like over the past two months? The award is given to the most valuable player in the league, and without Dame, the Blazers would be like an 11 seed right now. He is putting it all out there night in and night out, and I hope that he gets some serious attention when it comes time to vote.