3 MVP candidates who could rule the NBA this season

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Two players have taken home the last four NBA MVP awards.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic both won consecutive MVPs starting with Antetokounmpo in 2019.

This season, the award is likely to be hard-fought again.

Antetokounmpo and Jokic will face off against the likes of Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant.

These men make up this season’s five betting favorites for the award.

Rounding out the top ten are Jayson Tatum, Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, LeBron James and Devin Booker.

These ten players are among the elite players in the NBA.

With Antetokounmpo, Jokic, Durant, Curry, and James already having won MVP awards, we’re focusing on players who have yet to take home the coveted honor.

These three players can set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

Luke Doncic

First up is a player who will almost certainly win at least one MVP during his career: Doncic.

The Slovenian prodigy is just 23 years old and has finished in the top six of the MVP contest three years in a row.

Doncic is a three-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA First Team selection.

He has a career average of 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game with 57.3% true shooting.

Although its efficiency could be better, it’s hard to fault.

Its usage percentage over the past three seasons was 36.8%, 36.0%, and 37.4%.

League-wide, these numbers ranked second, first, and first place respectively.

No player in the NBA carries a greater offensive burden than Doncic.

And the Dallas Mavericks’ offseason has given no indication that his workload will be eased.

Doncic lost his teammate Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks.

Brunson did much of the secondary playmaking on offense, relieving pressure on Doncic’s shoulders.

Spencer Dinwiddie will fill that role, but he won’t take away from Doncic’s massive offensive responsibilities.

Dallas acquired Christian Wood from the Rockets.

Wood will be a nice pick and roll partner for Doncic to dance with.

It seems inevitable that Doncic will win an MVP during his NBA career.

If he can improve his efficiency and get the Mavericks in the top four in a strong Western Conference, Doncic will be hard to beat for the MVP award.

Yes Morant

Ja Morant officially arrived as an NBA superstar last season.

He averaged 27.4 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 49.3% from the ground and 34.4% from deep.

His career highs in minutes per game, points per game, rebounds per game, FG%, and 3P% earned him the honor of Most Improved Player (although he would disagree).

Morant led the rising Grizzlies to a 56-26 record, second best in the NBA.

He finished seventh in MVP voting and was selected to the All-NBA Second Team.

Morant might have had an even better year if it weren’t for some injury troubles that forced him to miss 25 games.

Morant now wants to take another step forward.

This offseason, the Grizzlies began to consolidate their roster a bit.

De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson, both regulars in last season’s rotation, were lost and not directly replaced.

Morant’s front seat co-star Jaren Jackson Jr. is also expected to miss the first half of the season following foot surgery.

Memphis will look to Morant to close the gap.

Building on last season while appearing in more games would give Morant a strong resume for MVP.

It wouldn’t hurt to keep the Grizzlies at the top of the standings either.

Joel Embid

Last place is the MVP runner-up two years in a row: Embiid.

The 76ers’ big star has publicly stated his desire to win an MVP award.

And if it weren’t for Jokic’s brilliance over the past two years, he would certainly have taken home at least one trophy.

But this year could be Embiid’s best opportunity.

Voter fatigue is real in price voting.

Only three players in NBA history have won the MVP trophy three times in a row: Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.

Bird was the last to do so in 1984-1986.

For Jokic to win the award a third time, he would need to surpass his 27.1/13.8/7.9 line from last season.

As such, Embiid feels poised to potentially win its first MVP award.

Turning 29 as the season progresses, Embiid is finally in a squad tailored to his game.

He has a co-star at the point guard in James Harden, who aims to take some of the strain off his shoulders while making his life easier.

Embiid should also be surrounded by better shooting at all times.

While Embiid is unlikely to average 30 points per game anymore, he should still average 27+ due to greater efficiency.

And for a player who has greatly improved his ball handling and decision-making, Embiid could also top his 4.2 assists per game from last season.

Embiid also stated during this year’s media day that together he will strive to become better defensively.

With less demand on offense, he expects to be among the best defenders in the league.

Sustained offensive dominance coupled with more consistency on the defensive could make voters unable to pass Embiid for a third time.

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