NBA MVP RACE: Jokic, Tatum, Embiid, Doncic and Giannis
The NBA season is heating up, and if you have been hypnotized by the NFL playoffs then you might have missed that Nikola Jokic is favorite for another MVP.
Just in case you have been so enraptured with the NFL this season that you have been completely ignoring the NBA, fret not. I am here to give you a midseason summary of how the MVP race is going as we lead up to All-Star weekend in Utah.
It’s no surprise that foreigners blanket the board in the eyes of the odds makers as Nikola Jokic is the favorite to win a third consecutive MVP, while Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid are nipping at the Serbian’s heels and Jayson Tatum is the only homegrown player in the Top-5 of the sports books favorites for the award.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (-120)
We have always known what Nikola Jokic is capable of. His patented blend of H-O-R-S-E type shots, and wizard like passes have earned him back-to-back MVPs. What we didn’t know is how good the Nuggets can be when they have a full strength squad. Jamal Murray is back after ages on the injured list and Denver has skyrocketed to the top of the Western Confernce. This year the Serbian looks even better with a full cast of characters in Denver. Jokic was winning this award when his team was barley scraping the playoffs, so him being favorite shouldn’t come as a surprise with the way that he and his team are playing.
STATS: 25.1 PPG 11.1 RPG 10 APG 63.1% FG
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (+240)
Joel Embiid has come out with a vengeance after what he considered to be a snub for the MVP award last year. He is looking better than ever, and the 76ers are in the thick of the hunt for the top spot in the East. He and James Harden have had almost a full calendar year to build their chemistry, and the Philly point guard only facilitates things for the former Kansas Jayhawk who leads the league in point per game.
STATS: 33.5 PPG 10.1 RPG 4.2 APG 53.4% FG
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (+475)
After getting his team to the Western Conference Finals last season, Luka Doncic can now say he is truly a superstar in this league. You might say he was before last year’s playoffs, but he had yet to prove himself in the postseason. On the heels of a deep run to the WCF, Luka is flirting with a triple double on a nightly basis, but the Mavs as a team don’t look as strong as they did last year when Jalen Brunson was playing sidekick to Doncic. The wear and tear of the season caught up to Doncic last year, so we’ll see if the extra load will be too much to handle for the Slovenian.
STATS: 33.4 PPG 8.9 RPG 4.2 APG 53.4% FG
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (+1,000)
Jasyson Tatum is on a mission. After getting a taste of the NBA Finals last year, he looks even more motivated this season. He has the Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference and can score 30 points a game when ever he wants. Tatum will be pleased with his stats, but more pleased with the way the Celtics are looking as we head towards the final half of the season.
STATS: 31.1 PPG 8.7 RPG 4.4 APG 46.8% FG
Giannis Antetokoumpo, Milwaukee Bucks (+1,100)
The two time MVP is looking to add to his trophy case this year, but has a steep mountain to climb if he is going to catch up to Embiid and Jokic. The Greek Freak is the heart and soul of the Bucks who sit a few games back of the conference leading Celtics . He is not only averaging a double double, but he is the third leading scorer in the league and is second in rebounds behind Domantas Sabonis.
STATS: 31.8 PPG 5.2 RPG 5.2 APG 53.6 % FG