The battle for the NBA 2020-21 MVP is getting tougher with each day.
With a quarter of the NBA 2020-21 Regular season done and dusted, the race for the MVP looks fiery and fascinating. A curious mix of Veterans and moderately experienced, the players have been fierce as ever despite all the coronavirus restrictions and regulations. Several players are having career years and several high-rollers failed to make the cut. The likes of Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry are still in the running but these 5 players have staked their claims with authority.
5. Paul George
Sitting second in the Western Conference does not seem like a big deal for the loaded Los Angeles Clippers. In fact, they were in a similar position last time around as well. What differentiates the Ty Lue era from the Doc Rivers’ era is the impact that Paul George is making on the floor. The former Most Improved Player has vaulted himself into the MVP conversation with brilliant performances on the court, a stark difference from his playoff performances from last time around.
The 5-time All-NBA selection is averaging 24 points, 5.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting at a 50% clip and also an amazing 46% from deep, while nailing 91 % of his freethrows. He has also made himself active on the defensive end with 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks per game, helping his team to a 16-5 record.
4. Kevin Durant
After missing close to one and a half years of NBA basketball, it is understandable to have some rust. But what is unexpected is to explode on all fronts and push yourself back to where you were before you left the stage.
30.5 points per game on 51.7 % shooting and 44.4% from 3 is no joke. Add to that 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists and it can only mean one thing. The most prolific scorer in NBA is back at this best and would take a lot to stop him. Durant is easily the Nets’ most crucial player, especially if they want to make the Finals and beyond and so far he has not failed to disappoint. His MVP case looks likely to garner more traction as the season progresses and the Nets’ record gets better than the 13 -9 record it is currently at.
3. Nikola Jokic
26.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.6 blocks per game at 57% shooting and 38% from 3 with 83% from the line. No, these are not the stats of a seasoned point guard but that of the most revolutionary center, the NBA has seen since Shaquille O’Neal. The scariest thing about Nikola Jokic’s stats is the fact that it improves considerably during the playoffs.
Jokic seems to have picked up the pace from the last year’s playoff run and despite the rest of his team playing catchup, he has the Nuggets 4th in the west with a 12-8 record. The record will undoubtedly improve as soon as his second-in-command Murray returns to near playoff mode but the chubby Coca-Cola fan from Serbia has become an elite NBA player. His most recent explosions in the NBA 2020-21 against the Jazz is a testament to his talent. As the Nuggets’ record improves, you can easily see the Joker move up the ladder.
2. LeBron James
There is something about a 36-year-old defying odds to raise the bar for all those who follow him, year-by-year. In his 18th NBA season, the King is redefining the game. The Lakers are still the team to beat in the NBA 2020-21 and their ace is averaging 25.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game, with 49% FG and 41% from deep. These numbers are mind-boggling for any NBA player, let alone a 36-year-old player.
This season, the Lakers look more battle-ready and seasoned compared to last season. If they improve to the top seed in the West, LeBron could be an easy choice for his fifth MVP award and thereby will be able to equal Michael Jordan’s achievement in the same category.
1. Joel Embiid
One week ago, this list would have seen LeBron James in the first place. But after a toughed out victory over the Lakers and the subsequent collapse of the Lakers to the Pistons have pushed Embiid to the top. Take nothing away from the Cameroonian big man though. The Philly centre is having a career year with 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and a modest 2.8 assists per game at 54.4% shooting which includes a mind-blowing 40.4% deep shooting.
The other end of the floor is equally impressive with 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. Under Doc Rivers, Embiid has come into his own and has propelled the 76ers into the top spot in the East and the Philly side has emerged as the main contenders to the Nets coming out of the Conference. The 2 and a half-years spent waiting for his recovery seems well worth it.