NBA MVP Watch: Week 14
As the calendar month comes to an end, it is time to look at how this year’s MVP race is shaking out.
This year’s race has more elite candidates than ever, but it’s still the same familiar favorites dominating the discussion.
There is still plenty of season left, but here are the leading candidates so far.
1. Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets
Jokić is the reigning two-time MVP, but this season may be his best yet.
He is nearly averaging a triple-double with 25.1 points, 10.9 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game.
Most of his statistical averages are down, but it is his play on the court that is better than ever.
With Jamal Murray returning from injury this season and an improved set of role players, Jokić’s passing is on display now more than ever.
Jokić has led the Nuggets to the top of the Western Conference, holding down the one seed with a 34-16 record, which is the second-best record in the league.
There isn’t much that Jokić could have improved upon from last season, but he still found a way and he finds himself in line to win his third straight MVP award if he can keep up his stellar play.
2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Unfortunately for Embiid, he has finished in second place in MVP for the last two seasons and may finish behind Jokić once again this season.
Embiid is having arguably his best season yet, averaging a career-high in points and leading the league with 33.8 points per game.
The 76ers have also had tremendous success as of late and find themselves as the second seed in the East, trailing only the Boston Celtics.
The talented supporting cast of Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, and Tobias Harris take some pressure off of Embiid, but ultimately he drives the team forward.
To get over the hump and finally win the award, Embiid will have to continue to play games to keep the Sixers at the top of the conference.
Embiid has played 36 games to Jokić’s 43, and Embiid missing games has been a problem for most of his career.
The Sixers’ are on a 7-game winning streak and if they can get a better record than the Nuggets, then Embiid may finally get the MVP award.
3. Jayson Tatum
Tatum has taken a huge step forward this season, averaging 31.1 points per game and being the focal point for the Celtics, who have the best record in the league.
His two-way impact at the forward position is rare and extremely valuable, which fits perfectly with the rest of the Celtics’ personnel.
The MVP case for Tatum relies on the simple fact that he is the best player on the best team, which in the past has been a valid enough reason to win the award.
He doesn’t have to carry the load of a Jokić or Embiid, which is probably the biggest struggle he has in the MVP race.
Jokić and Embiid as centers have an offensive system created around them, and although Tatum is the leader of the Celtics’ offense, he doesn’t have that same sort of pressure.
Nevertheless, Tatum’s step forward has catapulted him into the MVP race, and with the dominance of the Celtics this season, he has a chance to win the coveted award.
Christopher Reynolds is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.
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