NBA MVP Watch: April 24
With just weeks to go in the NBA season, players are staking their final claims to be deemed this year’s regular season MVP. However, each of the final contenders have significant flack against their campaign in one form or another.
The league’s two outstanding big men, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, still sit atop most analysts’ MVP ladders, but the mystifying Stephen Curry has burst onto the scene from out of nowhere. Here’s a look at each of these outstanding players’ cases for NBA MVP.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Unlike almost every other star in the league this year, Jokic has not missed one game this season. In a time where many teams rest their team leaders at the slightest injury, this feat is incredibly impressive.
Jokic is not only playing every game, but he is also putting up monster numbers. He is averaging near a triple-double with 26.1 points, 11 rebounds and 8.7 assists per contest. Jokic has shown he can pass the ball like no other center has before.
There is a chance Jokic’s MVP run could hinge on recent events. On April 12th co-star Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL leaving Jokic to lead the team on his own. Jokic could get a firm grasp on the MVP race if he can keep his team playing well despite Murray’s absence.
Something similar happened early in the season to MVP candidate Lebron James when Anthony Davis went down with an injury. James was unable to keep his Lakers at the top of the standings and was eventually injured himself. However, Jokic has passed the test so far, leading the Nuggets to a 4-0 record since Murray’s injury.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia’s big man has been the best player in the league to many people around the NBA. However, unlike Jokic, Embiid has missed games, 18 of them to be exact.
Despite the missed games, Embiid has looked phenomenal when he has played this year. He has led Philadelphia to having the second-best defensive rating in the league. Embiid possesses a strong presence on the defensive end while still averaging over 30 points per game.
Embiid has recently returned to the floor from injury and has not missed a beat since he last played, pouring in 30-plus point performances at ease. He has the 76ers hanging on to the first seed in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets hot on their tails.
If Embiid can finish the season without missing anymore games and have his squad atop the Eastern Conference standings, he will have a strong case against Denver’s elite big man.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Seemingly out of nowhere, a ridiculous showing in April has propelled Curry into the MVP conversation. He has averaged nearly 40 points per game in April while shooting 47.1% from 3-point territory.
Although his performances this season have felt MVP worthy, Curry’s major stain against his claim resides with his team’s record. The Warriors are in tenth place in the Western Conference and a game below .500.
In normal circumstances they would currently sit outside the playoff picture, but with the NBA’s new play-in tournament the Warriors would make the playoffs if the season ended today. In a sport where superstars can have major impacts on their team’s success in the standings, it is concerning to see Curry’s Warriors so low.
Curry can substantially bolster his MVP chances if he can somehow boost the Warriors to a top six spot in the west and get out of the play in tournament.
All in all, it has been remarkable to watch one of the most competitive NBA MVP races in years. Whoever wins it will be met with criticism from fans of the other contestants but will certainly have the game to back it up.
Maclain Young is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Second Year / Broadcast Journalism