NBA 2021 MVP Predictions

Story posted October 19, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Daniel Mader

Last season, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic took home the NBA’s MVP award, becoming the lowest selected draft pick in NBA history to do so.

Jokic displayed just how difficult it is to win the MVP in this league; An MVP puts up big numbers on a nightly basis while helping their team make the playoffs.

This season, there will be plenty of names to keep an eye on in the MVP race. Let’s take a closer look at three of those names who could take home the hardware.

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

In case you needed a reminder, Doncic is still just 22 years old.

He is also a 2x All-NBA First Team selection, 2x All Star and the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year. Those two sentences should contradict each other, but we are witnessing one of the best young players in league history.

An offensive machine, Doncic scores at will. His large frame makes him a strong finisher despite limited athleticism, and his playmaking ability is among the league's best, with a career average of 7.7 assists per game.

The scariest part for every team except the Dallas Mavericks: he still has a lot of room to grow as a player.

Doncic has never been a great defender, and his three point and free throw shooting percentages are surprisingly below league average.

If he can shoot the three ball more efficiently, knock down more of his free throws and make more improvements as a defender, Doncic would be the leading MVP candidate this season.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

After finishing third in MVP voting last season, there’s no reason to doubt that Curry will be back in the race this season.

His career-high 32.0 points a night led the league, and Curry went ballistic down the stretch for Golden State. He single-handedly kept them in playoff contention, where they eventually fell short.

Already the greatest shooter ever, the seven-time All-Star should once again have the scoring volume to contend for his third MVP award.

He is a three-point machine due to his unrivaled shot making ability off the dribble and his elite off-ball movement. He has become a strong finisher as well, due to his craftiness around the rim paired with the strength he lacked at the beginning of his career.

The Warriors would have to return to the playoffs for Curry to take home the award, which is very realistic. Between the likely return of sniper Klay Thompson around mid-season and the addition of a few veterans, Golden State should be in playoff contention.

Curry, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, will be in the MVP conversation this season, while also making shots that make you question if he’s even human (as he does every year). 

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Embiid had a career year last season, dominating for 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds a game while being the defensive anchor for the first-seeded 76ers.

The pure dominance when he was on the court placed Embiid second in MVP voting behind Jokic.

One thing held him back from placing first: his availability for his team. He played in just 51 games due to injuries. 
Embiid’s development into one of the game's best big men has been beautiful to watch. His ability to back down anybody in the post and his much-improved shooting from around the floor have shaped him into one of the league's best players.

With the Ben Simmons situation in Philadelphia looming, Embiid could be in position for more time with the ball in his hands, meaning more points on the board and more work on the glass to replace Simmons’ 7.2 boards a night.

If the four-time All-Star can play in at least 70 games, he will have a great chance at moving from second to first in MVP voting.

 

Daniel Mader is a second-year majoring in digital/print journalism. To contact him, email dbm5725@psu.edu.