NBA’s Three Horse Race for MVP Honors

By Frank w Gillespie | Posted 2 years ago

A handful of games remain to be played in the NBA regular season, as the race for MVP tightens.


Superstar guards Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), and Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies) have all enjoyed spectacular seasons.


Had Morant not gone down with a knee injury in mid-March, it’s possible that he’d still be a serious contender to win. Morant averaged 27.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 6.7 APG before being sidelined, making several mind-blowing shots/ plays along the way. 


Morant and the Grizzlies have mauled the league, locking up the second seed in the West with four games remaining. What Memphis has accomplished is more impressive since the Grizz are 19-2 without Morant in the lineup.


His time away from the court combined with the Grizzlies’ success in his absence, has effectively eliminated Morant from consideration. It’ll be interesting to see how formidable Memphis is in the playoffs, when Morant is expected to make his return. 


Booker has sizzled for the Suns, averaging 26.6 points, five rebounds, and almost five assists per game. However, Phoenix has already secured the top seed in the Western Conference, and is planning for a deep playoff run. The Suns rested Booker Sunday against the OKC Thunder, and being out of action damages his chance a bit. 


Doncic has outshined both Booker and Morant on the stat sheet, posting 28.3 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 8.7 APG. The Slovenian-born spark plug has the Mavericks on the brink of securing their first 50+ win season since 2014-2015. Dallas is currently projected to be the fourth seed coming out of the West, and Luka is largely responsible. 


However, entering the final stretch of the MVP race, it’s becoming unlikely that any of these elite guards will win.


Three of the NBA’s premiere big men are the true MVP finalists, and it’s been a box score bloodbath. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) have been slugging it out. All three giants have been putting on a show lately, while helping to position their teams for a playoff push. 


Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP himself (2019, 2020), is no slouch. Giannis and the Bucks are still in the running to snatch the Eastern Conference’s top spot from the Miami Heat. Milwaukee has four games left, three on the road. The “Greek Freak” has averaged 37.3 points and 12.7 rebounds over his previous three contests. 


Giannis (30.1 PPG) is currently in third place for the NBA scoring title, behind Embiid (30.2 PPG) and the timeless LeBron James (30.3 PPG).


These scoring machines are only separated by .1 points in the rankings, and the drama is building. LeBron dropped 40 points on New Orleans in his most recent performance, but he’s been dealing with an ankle issue. James and his star-studded Lakers squad are scraping and clawing for a play-in spot in the West, but that is a longshot to happen. 


The 76ers are tied with the Bucks in the standings, and are also fighting to claim the No, 1 seed in the East. Philadelphia unleashed Embiid in the paint as he erupted for 44 points and 17 rebounds against Cleveland on Sunday. The Sixers have four games left to play, three of them coming in front of the Philadelphia faithful in Wells Fargo Center. 


Embiid finished a distant second to Jokic in MVP voting last season, but the Cameroonian is close enough to smell it now.   


Embiid was the favorite as of last week, but Jokic (-280) has recently flipped the tables on “The Process” (+230). “Joker” scored 38 points in back-to-back games versus the Timberwolves and Lakers, while pulling down 19 and 18 rebounds, respectively. Jokic is wonderfully well-rounded, averaging 26.8 PPG, 13.7 RPG, and still managing to dish out eight assists per game. 


The Serbian Nugget is tightening his grip on the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, as Denver jockeys for its final postseason positioning. The Nuggets have a trio of games left on the calendar, and all three will be played in Ball Arena. Jokic will have the opportunity to close out the regular season with the Denver fans roaring in support. Unless Embiid or Giannis (+600) conjure up some last minute magic, Jokic is likely to repeat as MVP. 




Get updates on the launch of OSDB Plus and sign up for the OSDB Newsletter.