The NBA season is in its final stretch before the playoffs begin. Thus far, there is no obvious candidate for MVP that rises above the rest. However, many players are enjoying exceptional seasons, including the following five (ordered)
#1 Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic, a 7’0 tall big man who can do next to everything on the court. From being a three-level scorer to the best passing center ever, he can do it all. Nearly averaging a triple-double and leading the Nuggets to a high seed in the playoffs, Jokic is having a stellar season. At the moment, if Curry does not make the playoffs, Jokic is likely the MVP frontrunner, which is impressive considering his expectations coming into the year. Overall, Jokic has probably been the most consistent player in the league this season, putting up remarkable performances left and right.
#2 Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry has been, by far, the best player in the NBA this season. There is almost no dispute on it. However, despite his personal success, the reason for him not being far and away the MVP favorite is due to his team’s struggle. Currently, they are on the lower end of the play-in tournament bracket, but Curry still leads the league in scoring and is currently tearing up every opponent he faces, including multiple 40-50+ point games just in the past week. If his team can get into the playoffs, I would argue he is the indisputable MVP favorite.
#3 Joel Embiid
Embiid has dominated the NBA this season and the only thing keeping him out of the top is that he was injured for a couple of weeks, which hurt his case. Still, he is averaging 30 points and 13 rebounds, some of the best big man numbers since Shaquille O’Neal. Philadelphia is also the top team in the Eastern Conference, even over James Harden, Kevin Durant, and the Brooklyn Nets. Even though Embiid will likely not win the award due to injury concerns, he will still be considered and likely be a top 5 vote-getter.
#4 James Harden
Speaking of the Nets, the key to their success this season has been James Harden. While he has been out for a couple of games, he has gone on huge tears including multiple 40 point triple doubles. With the Nets being a top tier team, it isn’t a shot at the moon to say Harden is deserving of the MVP award, but with so many stars in Brooklyn, it’s tough to single out one that shines above the rest.
#5 Luka Dončić
Luka entered the season as the MVP favorite, and while he hasn’t lived up to those expectations, he has brought a struggling Dallas team up to the seven seed while nearly averaging a 30 point triple double. Like Curry, his team is struggling a bit, but they are still in the playoff picture at the moment. While he will likely not bring the MVP trophy to his prestigious trophy case, his bright future suggests that there will be one, sooner than later.
In addition to these five candidates, a broader range of MVP candidates could get onto the ballot. Here are some of the honorable mentions: