The NBA MVP race: Morant injured, Embiid closing in on scoring title | Week 24
Joel Embiid continues to look like the favorite for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, but he will have to hold off a late charge from Jayson Tatum.
As we get deeper into the NBA season, and closer to the playoffs many things are becoming clear. The Phoenix Suns have already wrapped up the top record in the league. The Play-In picture is starting to sort itself. But one thing that remains up for grabs is the MVP race. Suddenly Jayson Tatum has thrust himself into the discussion not just as a contender but as one of the favorites, while Joel Embiid continues to pad his stats in Philly.
Here are each of the contestants outputs through Tuesday, 29 March.
Embiid has been the driving force that has propelled the Sixers back into the hunt for the top spot in the East over the last month. Having James Harden as his newest sidekick hasn’t hurt Philly’s one seed aspirations, but Embiid has put this team on his shoulders while flirting with this year’s scoring title.
The Sixers big man, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokoumpo are in a three horse race for the top scorer in the league this year. As of this afternoon James is averaging 30.1 ppg, Embiid is getting 29.9 ppg and Giannis has dropped to 29.7. In Embiid’s last 10 games he has failed to score 30 just twice, but in that stretch the Sixers are just 6-4.
Season stats: 29.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
The youngest of all the contenders for this year’s Most Valuable Player award was struck down with injury over the last week. While neither Ja Morant, nor the Memphis Grizzlies seem to preoccupied with the knee injury, it looks as though Morant will be reevaluated in a couple weeks time.
This will give Morant a fair amount of rest as the playoffs inch closer, but will most likely take him out of contention for the MVP title. Much like Steph Curry, who is set to miss time with a twisted ankle, these late season injuries don’t do you any favors when it comes to winning the NBA MVP.
Morant has played just once since March 14th, that was the game against the Hawk, which is the only game the Grizzlies have lost in their last ten.
Season stats: 27.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists.
The newest runner in the race for the MVP is the Boston Celtics super star Jayson Tatum who has slingshot his side into the the chase for the first seed in the East.
Before the overtime loss to Toronto Raptors last night, the Celtics had won 11 of 12, and Tatum was the main protagonist in Boston’s bounce up standings. Tatum didn’t play last night, but the Celtics still put up a fight without out their star.
Since the All-Star game Tatum is averaging over 32 points a game, and the Celtics now sit just a game back of the Miami Heat, who lead the Eastern Conference with two weeks to go. Tatum’s MVP chance could hang on whether or not Boston finishes with the top seed in the East.
Season stats: 27.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
The Greek Freak has been the recipient of some rest days of the last week and a half as Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has been reserving his two time MVP for what lies ahead.
Milwaukee is in the thick of the hunt for the one seed in the East, but that hasn’t stopped Giannis from sitting out two of the last four games. He sat against the Timberwolves and the Wizards over the last week, but played against the Bulls in the game sandwiched between the contests against Minnesota and Washington.
In the Bulls game, his streak of five straight 30 point games was snapped, but he still ended the game with 25 and 17 rebounds. He got back to his 30 point performances in the Bucks loss to the Memphis Grizzlies over the weekend when he posted 30 and 11. The Greek has fallen off the scoring title race, sitting 0.4 ppg beind LeBron James.
Season stats: 29.7 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists.
Last year’s MVP continues to make his strong case for a back-to-back bid, but his team isn’t doing him many favors. For as good as Jokic has been all season long, it doesn’t seem likely that the voters will overlook the fact that Denver is fighting to stay out of the Play-In spots.
The Serbian is coming off of one of the best triple-doubles you will ever see. He scored 26 points, had 19 rebounds and dished 11 assists in the Nuggets four point win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Jokic hasn’t had the luxury of resting games like other stars whose teams are in more favorable playoff positions. He has known all season that without Jamal Murray and without Michael Porter Jr. he would be carrying the Nuggets.
Season stats: 26.3 points, 13.6 rebounds and 8 assists.
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