The 2020-21 NBA regular season was riddled with injuries and postponements due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this tumultuous ride is almost over. While there is still time for the current standings to change, the pressure is on for teams and players alike. As the season comes to a close, so does the chance for a few players to prove that they are NBA MVP material.
The @utahjazz moved back to #1 in the West last night! The #StateFarmPlayIn Tournament and #NBAPlayoffs picture as of today. 📖: https://t.co/6pl70CeK95 pic.twitter.com/T63j9wc7bT — NBA (@NBA) May 4, 2021
With the regular season officially ending on May 16th, teams still have time to battle for playoff placement and potential league MVP candidates still have time to collect their final votes. Because the question remains – Who will come out on top and be crowned the 2021 league MVP?
There are a number of potential candidates, so let’s lay out some of the more qualified players.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Arguably the strongest contender for NBA MVP this year, Nikola Jokic has been a dominant force for the Nuggets’ offense. Despite losing teammate Jamal Murray earlier this season to an ALC tear in his left knee, Jokic has lead his team into the fourth spot in the Western Conference.
Nikola Jokic would absolutely be deserving of the NBA's MVP award and we should act like it https://t.co/eQpAmD62G7 pic.twitter.com/xjtnYKhYBm — For The Win (@ForTheWin) May 7, 2021
Jokic ranks third in most total points this season behind Steph Curry and Bradley Beal. He also ranks first among centers for assists with an average of 8.5 per game, per NBA.com. If Jokic can score enough votes to clinch the title, he would be the first center to win MVP since Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal in 2000, per Tim Bontemps, ESPN.
Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul and the Suns are currently tied with the Utah Jazz for first in the West. Things are looking good for the Suns with a recent five-game win streak. Not only have Paul and his supporting cast lead the team into the playoffs, but they are also in the top two for the first time in almost a decade.
Did I mention that this is his first season with the Suns? Talk about a seasoned vet settling into his new role.
Just a few of @CP3's accomplishments as he turns 36 today 🎉 🏀 Rookie of the Year 🏀 11x All-Star 🏀 9x All-Defense 🏀 2013 ASG MVP 🏀 2x Olympic Gold Medalist 🏀 10K+ assists 🏀 5th all-time for both league steals and assists pic.twitter.com/nrLed4sKXn — ESPN (@espn) May 6, 2021
His leadership with this team has given them so much momentum going into the playoffs, having the highest percentage of points made mid-range with 33.7% and as an active career leader in assists with 10,205 per NBA.com.
At 36 years old, playing at the caliber Paul is, there’s no doubt in my mind he should be considered for MVP.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers rule the East, ranking first, and lead by their fearless leader, Joel Embiid. Despite missing several games this season due to injury, he still remains one of the most dominant players when at full strength. He is the third season leader in points per game, with an average of 29 points.
Embiid (34 PTS & 12 REB) came up big against the Spurs 😤 pic.twitter.com/DvHCVt0z0W — NBA TV (@NBATV) May 3, 2021
He continues to wow fans with his incredible accomplishments – perhaps most notable is his 50 point, 88% free-throw shooting performance against the Chicago Bulls back in February per NBA.com. This 7-foot monster is exactly what teams should fear entering the playoff arena.
Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
It’s as if Steph Curry could be ruled out of the MVP conversation. Leading the league in scoring, averaging 31.3 points per game and five three-pointers per game, Curry is a dangerous force. So dangerous that teammate Draymond Green said that other players are “terrified” of his presence on the court, per Mercury News.
Steph Curry becomes the FASTEST player to reach 300 3-pointers in one season 😮🔥 Only needed 58 games. pic.twitter.com/PZPk8nNqde — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 5, 2021
Although there is one slight problem with Curry’s chances at grabbing yet another MVP trophy. Unfortunately, the Warriors are currently ranked eighth in the West. Could a current play-in-spot contender really secure his spot as MVP? Only time will tell.
Another name that has earned a place in the NBA MVP conversation is Russell Westbrook. Although his team, the Washington Wizards, find themselves 10th in the East, what he’s accomplished this season is absolutely incredible. In April alone, he reached 12 triple-doubles, breaking the previous record of Wilt Chamberlain from 1968, per CBS Sports. Not only that, but he is now just six triple-doubles behind all-time record holder Oscar Robertson’s 181 career triple-doubles.
Russell Westbrook is the first player in NBA history to record 50 rebounds and 50 assists over a three-game span 💪 pic.twitter.com/9YBvtetQbC — ESPN (@espn) May 7, 2021