This time of year, just like with March Madness Predictions, everybody seems to have an opinion on who should be the MVP of the NBA. Does the player need to be on a good team to win the award? Should the award go to a player who carries an inferior team? What stats are most important? Should it be the best scorer, the best rebounder, the best defender, etc.?
Regardless of all the opinions out there, the facts stand by themselves. There are a handful of candidates for the MVP award, and they each have stats to back their case up. Let’s take a look at some of the candidates and why they might win the award:
Nikola Jokic – Center – Denver Nuggets
Jokic, obviously the reigning MVP, is averaging numbers close to those which he won the award with last year. For starters, he is averaging 26.1 points per game. This is a great number for any player, but this is particularly great for a center. Jokic averaged 26.4 points per game last season, before winning the MVP award.
As if nearing the scoring numbers from last year was not enough to springboard Jokic into the front of the race, his rebounding numbers are actually better this year than last year. Last year, Jokic pulled down 10.8 rebounds, impressively averaging a double-double. Incredibly, he is averaging just under 14 rebounds each game, more than three more boards each game.
His assist numbers are also similar to last year. He averaged 8.3 assists last year, and is averaging 8.1 assists per game. By the way, he ranks in the top ten in all three of the above-mentioned categories. This incredible statistical run could be followed up with an MVP trophy.
Joel Embiid – Center – Philadelphia 76ers
Embiid, another dominant big man, is averaging some video game-like numbers this season as well. He is scoring a career-high 29.7 points per game, up from 28.5 ppg last year. Every big man (Just like Jokic) is also expected to carry a heavy rebounding load, and Embiid does not disappoint in that area either. He averages over 11 each game, including 2 offensive boards.
Combine these stats with the fact that Philadelphia just acquired James Harden, with who Embiid seems to have developed instant chemistry with. Embiid is quoted as saying that he has essentially never felt more wide open than while getting passes from Harden in rhythm. Barring some sort of injury, Embiid’s stock should be doing nothing but rising.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Power Forward – Milwaukee Bucks
Ah yes, you knew that the defending champion would be on this list. Ever since grabbing that Lombardi trophy along with a 50 piece (Points and chicken nuggets), Antetokounmpo has been lighting it up. Last year, Giannis averaged 28.1 points per game. This year, he is nearing 30 ppg (29.7).
has also picked up another half rebound per game over last year, pulling down 11.5 this year. His 6 assists match his total from last year. The fact that the dominant force that willed Milwaukee to an NBA championship is actually improving should be a scary wake-up call to the rest of the league.
DeMar DeRozan – Small Forward – Chicago Bulls
Yes, he has Zach LaVine. Yes, he has Nikola Vucevic. Yes, he has Lonzo Ball. Bulls fans have been hearing it all year. Do these facts take away from his MVP case? Well, that depends on who you ask. To many, the most valuable player means the player that would be most missed if their team did not have them any longer.
DeRozan would have been sorely missed if not on the Bulls. He is consistently relied upon as the closer for his Bulls team. In terms of scoring, DeRozan is having quite the bounce-back year, scoring just over 28 points per game, as compared to the 21.6 he scored for San Antonio last year.
While his assist numbers have dropped, that is likely due to the incredible amount of good ball distributors that the Bulls have. He also has only had one season where he rebounded better than this year (2018-19).