NBA MVP Watch

Story posted April 10, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Zach Martin

The All-Star break of the NBA season has come and gone, and along with it, the halfway point of the schedule. As the playoffs near closer, the MVP race has begun to ramp up.

Health and safety protocols have limited the abilities of some of the league’s top performers this season, making this year’s race particularly interesting.

With so much uncertainty surrounding when players will be in action, it’s been difficult to say who the clear frontrunner is. However, there are a select few players who have consistently played at the highest level and earned the spotlight.

Joel Embiid

The Philadelphia star’s extended absence through March significantly decreased his chances of winning, but his return this week reignites hope for the center.

Embiid has since recovered from a knee bone bruise, which shouldn’t complicate his abilities in the long term.

Many sportsbooks still have him in the top three in terms of MVP odds and his performance prior to injury was undeniably top of the league.

Averaging just shy of 30 points and 33 minutes per game, Embiid has been carrying the workload of his team.

The 76ers are 9-9 without their big man this season, despite other standout athletes in the starting lineup such as Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. Philly is 26-8 with Embiid, which goes to show just how important he has been to the success of the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.

If Embiid can continue to produce in the same way he had prior to injury, he is pegged to sit atop the MVP leaderboard come the end of the season.

Nikola Jokic

Averaging more minutes than Embiid and nearly a triple double in points, assists and rebounds, it’s impossible to deny the Denver center’s game.

Jokic, much like Embiid, is a defensive juggernaut. Despite his position, Jokic ranks in the top five in assists per game this season with 8.7 and ranks in the top 10 in steals per game with 1.5.

The Joker also leads the league in player efficiency with a score of 36.94.

This has been Jokic’s best season statistically by far in his career, averaging more per game in points, assists, rebounds and steals than any other previous season.

He passes the eye test with flying colors, demonstrating poise under pressure and immense chemistry with his teammates. Jokic has been known to throw full-court and no-look passes effortlessly, proving his less-toned build doesn’t define his athleticism and grace.

The Nuggets are currently fourth in the stacked Western Conference, but are on a hot streak having won eight in a row behind their big man.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks’ power forward entered this season winning his second consecutive MVP and has been doing everything in his power to defend it.

While players like Damian Lillard and James Harden have stood out from a shooting perspective, the Greek Freak has truly demonstrated what an all-around basketball player should look like.

Giannis is averaging more blocks than most starting centers in the NBA and has maintained average point totals similar to his previous two MVP campaigns.

He went off for 47 points in a game earlier this month against Portland, shooting 18 for 21 from the floor.

The Bucks are currently third in the East, which is impressive given recent injuries sustained by notable teammates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

Needless to say, Antetokounmpo hasn’t dropped off at all from the plateau where he performed last season, which is a tall task to live by.

Recap

While teams like the Nets, Clippers and Lakers have several superstars to draw on for team success, the candidates listed above have shown what it means to be valuable to their franchises.

Without them on the court, their respective teams would arguably be nowhere near the high positions they’re in now. All three candidates are having career seasons and team performance has gone to show for it.

While it’s still difficult to say for sure which player will reign superior come the end of the season, it would be wrong not include these ballers in the conversation.

Zach Martin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. To contact him, email him @zrm5120@gmail.com.

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