NBA MVP Watch: March 30
Eric Fenstermaker takes a look at some of the top candidates for the NBA’s highest honor this season.
Just a few weeks ago, the NBA MVP Award looked to be Joel Embiid’s prize to lose.
However, following a bone bruise on his left knee, Embiid’s MVP campaign took a hit with the center still not back in action since March 12.
According to FanDuel, the 76ers center is now third in MVP odds at +750. He sits behind the versatile big Nikola Jokic and superstar scorer James Harden.
With so many talented athletes reaching new heights this season, this MVP race is far from over. Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Damian Lillard and plenty of others still have a chance at snagging the NBA’s highest regular-season honor.
If the season ended today, here are my top-three candidates for MVP:
Nikola Jokic, Center, Denver Nuggets
Jokic edges out Harden for the top spot because he currently leads his team in points, rebounds and assists, while Harden only leads in rebounds and assists.
The 6’11 center is dominant in every statistical category, and he currently has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 33.99, which is the highest in the NBA. Jokic not only dominates on offense, but he also averages the most steals on the Nuggets as well with 1.6 per game.
Jokic has terrific touch around the rim, and he can facilitate the ball with ease. He effectively catalyzes the Nuggets’ entire offensive scheme.
Defensively, Jokic averages almost a block a game (0.7), and he can use his length to generate turnovers and steals. He is a terrifying threat to opposing offenses who forces opponents to make bad mistakes.
“The Joker” continues to show why he is one of the most talented players in the NBA and is deserving of such a high honor.
James Harden, Guard, Brooklyn Nets
Like Steph Curry, Harden has completely changed the way offenses are run in the NBA. Harden has a unique skill set that focuses on three key things offensively: shooting from long-range, drawing fouls and serving as Brooklyn’s floor general .
Averaging 26.1 points per game, Harden uses his smooth handles and polished jump shot to rack up huge scoring totals. With his crafty touch as he drives down the lane, the 6’5’’ guard can deceive opponents and force them to foul him.
Harden loves to get to the free-throw line and convert. However, Harden isn’t just a scorer; he’s also a facilitator.
With 11.2 assists per game, Harden is first in the NBA in distributing the ball. He gets his teammates involved at a high level, and his movement with the ball generates opportunities for others.
Harden is a masterful maestro with the basketball, and he is orchestrating a fine-tuned Nets offense at just the right time.
Damian Lillard, Guard, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard is widely regarded as one of the top basketball players in the NBA, and I still believe that he is underrated. Yes, you read that correctly.
Lillard averages 29.8 points per game, and it almost just seems too easy for him.
The 6’2’’ guard has multiple 40+ point games this season with a special 50-point showing against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Lillard also passes the ball extremely well as he averages 7.8 assists per game, which is 7th in the NBA.
Even after missing his partner C.J. McCollum for a long stretch this season, Lillard has carried the load for the Trail Blazers keeping the team alive in the loaded Western Conference.
Lillard is a star that deserves even more attention, and if Lillard can help the Trail Blazers move up from the No. 6 spot in the West, he might have a chance at MVP.
Eric Fenstermaker is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalist
Eric Fenstermaker is a senior from Northampton, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is also minoring in business and sports studies and pursuing a certificate in sports journalism.
Eric is involved in After the Whistle and Penn State Sports Night (PSSN). For COMM Radio, Eric contributes to a variety of different podcasts and co-hosts the Hail Mary radio show, which is dedicated to analyzing NFL games.