NBA MVP Watch - Feb. 24
As All-Star Weekend approaches, certain stars around the league are emerging as potential favorites for the most coveted individual award the NBA has to offer - the MVP.
Nikola Jokic has helped lead the Nuggets back from a horrendous start, while Lebron James has looked like he’s in his prime despite being 36 and in the midst of his year 18 campaign.
Meanwhile in the East, Joel Embiid has been the lifeblood of a Sixers team that currently sits atop the conference standings.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Father Time is still chasing James, as the 36-year-old Laker is having one of the best seasons of his illustrious career while leading a powerhouse Lakers team in the stacked Western Conference.
James is averaging 25.8 points while adding eight rebounds and eight assists per game. He’s also shooting the ball well from three at 35.5%, the sixth highest mark ever for him.
On top of his elite offensive performance, he benefits from the “best player on the best team” argument.
The Lakers currently sit atop the West despite star teammate Anthony Davis having one the worst seasons of his career while also battling injuries.
Should James continue to carry the Lakers with Davis out, it would be hard to deny the King his fifth MVP award.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
In 2017, Russell Westbrook stuffed the stat sheets in route to his sole MVP award, and Jokic is certainly doing just that this season.
Through his first 30 games, the big man is averaging 26.6 points and 11 rebounds.
However, the most mind boggling statistic is that he is averaging 8.5 assists per game from the center position, and while it’s not quite the triple double that Westbrook averaged in 2017, Jokic is having the best statistical season in the league.
Jokic also leads the league in win shares at 6.6, which is 1.7 more than any other player in the entire NBA.
On top of packing the box score on a nightly basis, the Nuggets have gotten back to their winning ways. After a rough start, Denver is back in the playoff picture as the seventh seed in the West at 16-14.
Even though the Nuggets are currently in the playoffs, not being among the top teams in the West could hurt Jokic’s chances even if his stats are warranting of him getting the award.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The possible favorite for the MVP, Embiid is the heart and soul of the Sixers.
Philadelphia does have another all-star on its team, but it has been made clear that without Embiid the 76ers are not contenders.
Embiid is averaging 30.3 points per game while also contributing 11.3 rebounds. What makes it so much more impressive is the efficiency at which Embiid is putting up these numbers.
The former Kansas Jayhawk is shooting 39.7% from three, a three percent increase over his previous career high which came in his rookie season.
He’s hitting 53.6% of his shots overall, the first time in his career he’s above 50%.
Embiid is leading the Sixers to a magical season, although his injury history brings cause for concern, as he’s already missed six games, which could hurt his chances if he misses too many.
His value to the team, though, is unquestionable.
Zech Lambert is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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