Lebron James – Lakers 25.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.9 APG, 50.4% FG, 37.8% 3P LeBron is at it again in Year 17 staying around the same in Points Per Game and increasing his Rebounds Per game, although his Assists have taken a big dip this year. He has played the 4th most minutes in the NBA this year and has not shown any signs of slowing down. He would also likely be 2nd or 3rd on my list if it weren’t for Embiid having missed 5 games and the Nuggets being disappointing this year. With Anthony Davis out until post All-Star break with a Calf Strain, Lebron has a chance to really widen his lead and be on his way to a 5th MVP award.
Joel Embiid – 76ers 29.7 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 54% FG, 39.7% 3P I think that Embiid has been the best player in the NBA this year, but the problem is he has already missed 6 games and seems to be on pace to miss more. It’s been since Bill Walton won in 1978 that a player has won the MVP and missed 17 games or more. Although it is a shorter season (72 games), Embiid is on pace to miss that many games if it were a regular 82 game season. Aside from that, he has been unreal on Offense and tapping into his potential and not to mention the great defender he has been as well. The 76ers are the best team in the East and most of that can be accredited to the emergence of an MVP level player.
Damian Lillard – Blazers 29.8 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.4 RPG, 45.1% FG, 38.4% 3P Lillard has led the Blazers to 4th place in the West and doing that without his backcourt mate in CJ McCollum & big man Jusuf Nurkic. He’s one of the most clutch players of this generation and has put Portland on his back this year. Another thriller of game last night vs New Orleans where he had 42 & 16, including the game-winning 3-pointer. Logo Lillard is having arguably his best season of his career so far, and he is steadily on his way to being in the Top 2 conversation on his current pace.
Nikola Jokic – Nuggets 27.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 8.6 APG, 57% FG, 40.2% 3P Jokic would likely find himself in the top 2 or 3 in the MVP race if it weren’t for the Nuggets being a disappointment so far this year. They’re currently 8th in the West and it’s clear that they miss Jerami Grant, who is having a breakout year of his own in Detroit. Still, Jokic is putting up Godly numbers for Denver this year and his impact on the court is visible in all aspects. One of the better passers in the game as a big man, he sets up the offense for the Nuggets and is the main reason for them being in the playoff race. If Denver can figure out their defensive woes and start winning some more games, Jokic can easily creep his way back up this race.
Steph Curry – Warriors 30 PPG, 6 APG, 5.3 RPG, 49.2% FG, 42.5% 3P If Steph weren’t playing out of his mind for the Warriors this year, they could have been looking at another Top 3 pick this year. Curry has the Warriors in the thick of the playoff race and they are getting better as each game goes. Though he likely won’t win the MVP this year, there’s no doubt Steph is showing how valuable he is to the Warriors.
Kawhi Leonard – Clippers 26.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5 APG, 51.3% FG, 38.9% 3P Kawhi is once again having his usual statistical season this year with an improvement in his overall Field Goal percentage. He is also another victim of having missed quite a few games (7) that is keeping him out of the top 5. Still playing defense at a high level and keeping the Clippers afloat in 3rd place along with Paul George.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks 28.2 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 5.8 APG, 56.3% FG, 1.3 BPG The Greek Freak is once again putting up great numbers, but the regular season success of the Bucks has not been great as the last 2 years. This is mainly due to the fact that the Bucks have a lot of new pieces in their rotation. Despite all that, he has kept the same level of play from his previous 2 MVP seasons on both offense and defense. Giannis certainly has the ability to move up higher once they begin to click better and the Bucks begin to start winning more games.
Luka Doncic – Mavericks 29.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 9.4 APG, 47.5% FG, 33.5% 3P After a bit of a slower start to the year, Luka has really picked back up where he left off from last year and the Mavericks have been performing better as of late. An increase across board in his stats besides a slight dip in Rebounds, Doncic has suddenly began to creep back up in the conversation. At this pace, he’s bound to finish Top 5 this year.
Donovan Mitchell – Jazz 24.2 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.4 RPG, 42.7% FG, 39.1% 3P You can make a case for Mitchell being higher with Utah being in 1st place, but this is the Most VALUABLE Player award and I think he and Gobert are pretty much equal in terms of value. Mitchell is having his most efficient season of his career so far and is only getting better. It’ll be interesting to see if the Jazz can keep up this level of success throughout the year and into the playoffs.
Rudy Gobert – Jazz 14.2 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 64% FG Similar to Mitchell, Gobert is equally as responsible for why the Jazz are the best team in NBA record-wise. A monster on defense, but he is also underrated in his offensive ability with pick and rolls and being a rim runner. It’s really good to see the Jazz doing so well this year.