The end of the NBA regular season is right around the corner, which means that we are closer to know which team will be the new champion, but that’s another thing. Undoubtedly, something that always happens around this time is speculation and make campaign about who should win the award given out at the end of the season. One of these awards, if not the most important one, is the MVP Award (Most Valuable Player), which is given to the best player of the regular season. However, that is not always true, because there are some collective factors that play a role in this, such as the team’s winning record.
If we talk about this season, maybe it has been one of the campaigns with more candidates who have opted for this title, among these are: Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic or Kevin Durant. The last MVP list published, updated as of March 31st, placed Nikola Jokic in the first position, followed by Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Whether it is because of the team’s position or because of a drop in the level of some candidates, it seems that the fight is between these three names.
Any of them could win it, because all of them have arguments in their favor. This award will be one of the most hard-fought in history, which resembles that of the 62-63 season, which was disputed between Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor and Oscar Roberson, and was finally won by the Boston Celtics center.
The Cameroonian center is of course one of the favorites to win this award, either for his narrative or dominance. Jojo is currently the league’s leading scorer averaging 33.3 points to go along with 4.2 assists, 10.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Undoubtedly these are MVP numbers.
Embiid has a narrative that could be favorable for him to get his first MVP, as he has been second in the voting for two consecutive years and this year could be perfect to redeem himself. Joel could become the second African player to win this award, after Olajuwon in 1994. He currently places the second position in the ranking due to some games he missed because of an injury he had in the last few days.
What can make his options to go down is that in the last few weeks, the player has suffered different leg problems that have forced him to miss some games, one of which was against his biggest rival, the Nuggets of Jokic.
The Joker is obviously another of the great candidates, not only because of the great season he is having, but also because he is the winner of this award in the last two seasons. Looking for his numbers, the Serbian is averaging almost a triple-double with 24.8 points, 9.8 assists and 11.9 rebounds.
If he wins this award, Jokic will become the European with the most MVP Awards, as he is currently tied with Giannis with a total of two. In addition, he could become the 4th player in history to win this award for three consecutive years (previously won by Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Larry Bird).
The Greek Freak is for sure one of the dark horses this season. This is mainly because Giannis has already accustomed us to putting up big numbers since winning MVP Award in 2019 and 2020.
The Greek is averaging 31.1 points, 5.7 assists and 11.8 rebounds. His most favorable asset would be that his team has the best record of the season. Like Jokic, he is fighting to become the most awarded European in history with this award.
Another important point to determine for the voters choosing one candidate or other could be the head to head matchups. Embiid and Jokic has only met at once, in January 28, which ended up in a 119-126 win for the 76ers. In this game Embiid clearly beat his opponent with 47 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists; while Jokic finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists.
In the East duel Giannis and Embiid have faced each other a total of four times. The balance is two wins for each one. In these games, Giannis has averaged 28.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists; while Embiid has recorded 26.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
On the other hand, Jokic and Giannis have faced each other only once. The result was 106-129 for the Nuggets. Giannis finished the game with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals; while Jokic signed a double-double with 31 points and 11 assists.
Undoubtedly, this last stretch of the season will be decisive for one player to win over the rest and be able to win the long-awaited MVP Award.
Main image: @Bucks.