Who Is The NBA MVP?
It happens every year about this time.
When the NBA season is coming to an end the discussions for the league’s MVP gets talked at with fine detail. The irony in this fact is there is far more breakdown in each candidate’s game than there is in defining the award.
If you polled those that are going to vote for this award you would get a different answer from all of them as to what does the MVP actually mean to them?
The way I have always looked at it is as the totality of the player having the best year combining stats, their importance to that team and that team’s record. If you are having one of the best statistical seasons ever but your team isn’t in the playoffs, that should keep you out. It shouldn’t automatically go to the best player on the team with the best record.
There is nuance here and that is why the debate happens every season. Let’s take a look at the most realistic candidates.
LeBron James: At one point during this long season, LeBron was my leader.
He was having a great season; the Lakers were winning and quite frankly the media wanted to give it to him after not acknowledging him enough in his great career. We all marveled at his level of play this season, but injuries ended that and his chances of taking home another MVP.
James Harden: Harden is a former MVP winner and once he was able to get out of Houston he immediately showed his impact on the Brooklyn Nets. They went from a team to look out for to THE TEAM to look out for. Harden morphed his game to fit around Kyrie and KD and was helping guide the Nets to the top of the Eastern Conference.
He was showing true “value” to the Nets. Like LeBron, injuries derailed his season, and his chances went out the door as well for another MVP.
Joel Embiid: Embiid has been the most important piece of the Philadelphia 76ers success this season. He has been good in the past, but his offseason dedication helped in taking his talent to yet another level. Embiid has stacked the stat page on a nightly basis while counting the wins for the Sixers.
The Sixers have not been nearly as good when Embiid misses games as they are below .500 without him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: Statistically Giannis has been AMAZING again.
The two time MVP is having another stellar season. The team has been good in the past but with their offseason addition of Jrue Holiday they are even more complete and for some reason may hurt Giannis in this case. Combine that with voter fatigue, which is a thing, and the Greek Freaks chances seem slim even though they shouldn’t be.
Julius Randle: Randle enters the pool as a surprise candidate.
Much wasn’t expected of the Knicks this season. Randle and the Knicks changed that with a focus on the defensive end and Randle’s gaudy offensive numbers. The element of surprise isn’t enough to win the award but it is enough to garner some votes and respect. I expect him to come up short but getting the love will feel like a win to some degree.
Chris Paul: I am not sure why it took so many people so long to realize Chris Paul’s value but they finally have. Value is the key word with Chris Paul.
Many players will have better stats than CP3 but Paul is a winner. Chris Paul has made every team better and most players he has played with better. Phoenix has spent a decade in the lottery and Paul’s arrival not only gets them a place in the postseason but they will host the opening round.
The Suns skipped steps here in making the playoffs and they did it because of Paul’s brilliance. He will get acknowledged and should but in my mind is not the league MVP.
Steph Curry: What Steph Curry continues to do on a nightly basis is truly amazing. The two time MVP continues to dazzle with incredible ball handling abilities and his legendary shooting touch.
Being the primary game plan for opposing defenses hasn’t slowed down Steph. He is chasing the scoring title and a spot in the post-season. For me his numbers are flat out awesome, but the win total will ultimately keep him from a third trophy.
Nikola Jokic: This is where I think the MVP trophy will end up. In a crowded field of candidates, Jokic checks every box needed to be considered the last one standing. He has been durable all season long. That fact shouldn’t be lost in a year where Covid and injuries has ravaged teams.
His numbers are the best of his career for a winning team. The Nuggets lost his running mate Jamal Murray and the team is jumping to an even higher level. He plays both point and center on the offensive end and just makes everyone better all while carrying a team to upper tier of the talented Western Conference.
The list of candidates is long and the case for many can be made, but to me the case is clear for Nikola Jokic winning his first MVP of his career.