by Prineet Parhar ‘23
Published May 3rd, 2021
This NBA season has been one of the most unique seasons in sports history. The season is ten games shorter than regular NBA seasons, and COVID-19 continues to impact the outlook and setting of the game.
However, the main issue with this season is actually player injuries. Many of the top NBA players have been injured for extended periods of time, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Joel Embiid, and Damian Lillard. Many of these players were once at the top of the MVP ladder, but their number of missed games hurt their chances to win the award this year. Here, in my opinion, is the current MVP ladder as the season rolls towards the tentative May 16 end date.
- Nikola Jokic, Center, Denver Nuggets – It is a foregone conclusion that Nikola Jokic is going to win the award. Many believe he’s the favorite because the other candidates have all missed games. However, regardless of the games missed, I still would have picked him to be the MVP because of his Wilt Chamberlain-esque numbers and his team success, as he has the Nuggets at 40 wins even without the help of second star Jamal Murray, who suffered an ACL tear.
- Joel Embiid, Center, Philadelphia 76ers – Embiid is the closest player to Shaquille O’Neal in the modern NBA. His defense is elite and the Sixers have a similar number of wins as Jokic’s team. What hurts Embiid’s case is the number of games that he’s missed. Playing around 60% of the games has historically not been enough to warrant the MVP (with a few exceptions), and with players like Nikola Jokic in the game, it is clear that this will not be one of the exceptions.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Power Forward, Milwaukee Bucks – Antetokounmpo is averaging similar numbers to his previous two seasons, for which he won the MVP award both times. However, the expectations of the previous two seasons are too much for him to win it again. His team is winning less and losing more.
Other mentions: Kawhi Leonard from the LA Clippers also has a chance to win the award because of his record efficiency. Additionally, Chris Paul is the most underrated player on the MVP ladder – arguably, he is actually the most valuable player this year because he has led the Phoenix Suns to the second best record in the league after the team missed the playoffs for the last eleven years.