The second half of the shortened regular season is officially under way. As the season continues to ramp up, the leagues lost of MVP candidates will begin to shorten, and only one player will come out on top.
Here is a ranking board of the current top five MVP candidates.
5.) LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron is LeBron. If his play wasn’t expected to be elite each and every time he stepped on the court, then he could easily win or at least be mentioned for MVP every season. The position-less James has done the most in LA without Anthony Davis, and that’s a main reason he is involved in the MVP discussion this year. Davis has been out and will continue to be but LBJ still has his Lakers going strong in the West standing at the 2 seed. James doesn’t have the best chance considering Joel Embiid and others are simply getting more recognition around the league.
4.) Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid has been the top of the MVP conversation so far this season, but recently hyperextend his knee and was diagnosed with a bone bruise resulting to a 2-3 week rehabilitation process for the star big-man. Embiid has led Philadelphia to a first seed in the Eastern Conference for now, but Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris will need to fill in for the dominant center. Embiid is averaging 30 PPG and 52.5% from the field along with 11 boards, absolutely dominant. The Sixers are in control of their own destiny moving forward, but as for MVP, Embiid has to return and remain healthy and dominant to receive this award. Availability is a huge part of this award.
3.) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard has been absolutely lights out this season for the Trailblazers who heavily relied on Lillard and his offensive game. Whether he has to drive and get a tough layup or shoot from his deep-three range, Dame Time was getting it done. CJ McCollum had an injury that he recently returned from, but prior to his return it was all Lillard and Carmelo Anthony on offense. Averaging 30.6 PPG, but his FG% sits at 45.6% which is great, but not better than bigger guys like Embiid, Jokic, and Giannis. Lillard has the Trailblazers as the 6th seed in the West, but the standings are tight so they could easily rise or fall in the near future. It will heavily rely on the play of Damian Lillard.
2.) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is putting up numbers almost identical to last year with 29 points, 11.7 rebounds, a career-high 6.2 assists and a 59.3% effective field-goal rate. The Bucks currently sit in the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, Giannis will most certainly be in the MVP-discussion every season for awhile, but others have just been more on a hype-train you could say. Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to one of the leagues top records to date despite some significant offseason roster changes as well as some offseason drama about an extension. Expect Giannis Antetokounmpo to make a big push for his 3rd consecutive MVP and a championship this season. Antetokounmpo could suffer from voter fatigue as well this season after winning the last two MVP honors.
1.) Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
The now favorite for MVP is the center for the Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic. Jokic is almost average a triple-double, with 27 PPG 11.2 RPG along with 8.6 APG. Jokic has earned his respect across the league, but there is still a long season ahead that includes a playoff run from Steph Curry, and return of a Joel Embiid and more that could alter this MVP race.