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Ranking the top 5 NBA MVP candidates

nba mvp
Photo image courtesy of The Sporting News.

The debate has raged for years. What is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award? Is it given to the most talented player overall or the player who is most valuable to his team? What is not a debate is that the MVP is a coveted award that only goes to a deserving player with immense talent and a knack for winning. There are several candidates for this year’s MVP, but five stand out above the rest. Here is a look at the top five candidates for this year’s NBA MVP. Strike 7 Sports Derrick Branch and Brian Bada came up with their own lists ranking their five best choices for the league’s most coveted award.

Derrick Branch

1. Joel Embiid: Philadelphia 76ers

Not since Shaq or Wilt Chamberlain have we seen the dominant big man. The guy from Cameroon reminds us every night why we should trust “The Process” and give him his flowers now. The association’s current runner-up for the scoring title, Embiid, averages 29.8 points per game on 48.9% shooting.

And unlike Shaq, he is also shooting 81.8% from the free-throw line. Leading his team in points, rebounds, and blocks, Embiid is certainly making his case for MVP. The big man has even added three-point shooting to his repertoire, shooting 35.8% from beyond the arc. So will “The Process” finally pay off? Philadelphia fans sure hope so, and NBA fans eagerly await the answer.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Milwaukee Bucks

They don’t call him the Greek Freak for nothing. The former two-time league MVP and Finals MVP continue to get better and better every year. He is number three in scoring with an average of 29.7 points, and his field goal and free throw percentage continue to rise, which is quite impressive considering that he is a big man in today’s small ball game.

Because of his massive talent and prominent leadership, the Milwaukee Bucks are currently third in the Eastern Conference standings and only one game back from being the top seed. Will he lead his team to a repeat title? That’s a possibility, just like his chance to win MVP.

3. Nikola Jokic: Denver Nuggets

Standing at 6’11 with a wingspan of 7’3, it is no surprise that the 2021 league MVP would be a top candidate again this year. Serbian-born Jokic, or as he is affectionately called, “The Joker,” has wreaked havoc on his opponents since 2014 by scoring over 19 points a game with a whopping 10.3 rebounds.

Jokic even has the most triple-doubles this season at 16. How many big men can do that? He takes his game to the highest heights by increasing in every statistical category and leading his team to a 45-31 record. Will he win again this year? He has a good chance.

4. Devin Booker: Phoenix Suns

Making the Playoffs for the first time last year and going to the NBA Finals had to be a morale booster, especially for the Phoenix Suns’ best player. Booker continues to scorch this year as he drops 26.5 points, 4.9 assists, and shoots 37.3 % from three.

Leading his team to the best record in the league is no easy feat, especially without his right-hand man, Chris Paul, for a good chunk of the season. Will he have another 70 point game and lead his team back to the Finals? Maybe. Will he continue to put up impressive stats and win the league’s Most Valuable Player award? Probably.

5. Ja Morant: Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies haven’t really been relevant since 2013, but let’s face it, even then, most NBA fans weren’t expecting them to go all the way. Not anymore. The 2019 second overall pick leads his team and his case for this year’s MVP. Morant is averaging 27.6 points, 6.7 assists, and shooting 34 % from behind the arc.

That’s not bad for an explosive player known for his power dunks and extreme athleticism. But will his high-flying histrionics and swag be enough to win the most MVP votes? Being a team leader with the second-most wins in the entire league certainly puts him in the running.

Brian Bada

1. Nikola Jokic: Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic is an MVP candidate for many reasons. He has carried the Nuggets to the 5 seed in the Western Conference for now. He has done it without the 2nd and 3rd best players on his team.  

2. Joel Embiid: Philadelphia 76ers

He has helped keep the Sixers relevant while Ben Simmons was away from the team. He has played the best season of his career on both sides of the ball. The Sixers have added James Harden to the mix, however, it will be Embiid that is going to be engine that drives the team to the top.

3. Luka Doncic: Dallas Mavericks 

Doncic has helped the Mavericks have one of their best seasons in a long time. The Mavericks are not the same team without him because he does so much for them. The playoffs are not even in the plans if the perennial all-star is not on the court.

4. Devin Booker: Phoenix Suns 

Booker led the Suns to the best record in the NBA by a good margin. They have a chance to win the title because he has elevated his play this season. Now that he has the experience of playing in the Finals, Booker could be the player that takes his game to another level.

5. Jaysom Tatum: Boston Celtics 

Taytom has played a huge role in the Celtic’s turnaround this season. He has had one of the best seasons in the NBA. The Celtics are now a contender because of him. At one point, Boston was tethering between a play-in/playoff team scenario. As of today, they are one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. Boston was able to get to this level due to the exceptional output by Tatum.

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