Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid have been the frontrunners of the regular season’s NBA MVP race for quite sometime now, but two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounpo is making a huge surge with less than two-weeks left in the campaign.
In Milwaukee Bucks’ thrilling overtime triumph over Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night, the reigning Finals MVP logged a massive 44-point, 14 rebound double-double, with his step-back three to tie the game at the end of regulation making the 27-year old Bucks’ all-time franchise scoring record over previous No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Enter the Greek Freak.
The week before last, Embiid ranked at the top of the MVP ladder. Jokic was right behind him, and as the Sixers went from winning three-straight games over the Heat, Lakers, and the Clippers, they dropped three-straight games after facing the Suns, Bucks, and the Pistons before bouncing back last night with a 144-114 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Now, Embiid has been surpassed by not only Jokic — but by Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as well.
He is currently tied with LeBron James as the NBA’s leading scorer with 30.1 points per game. He also ranks fifth in NBA rebounding (11.7), ahead of Embiid (11.5) but behind Jokic (13.6).
Giannis for MVP? Not unlikely, according to @Espngreeny.— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) April 1, 2022
“I’m a voter for the first time and I watched that last night and I thought to myself, ‘I might have to change my mind.’ ” pic.twitter.com/06iUAoOfFV
Whose Narrative is Most Compelling?
The numbers matter, but they are not the only factor. Basketball lovers are suckers for a good story, and the competition for a MVP race can provide just that.
Nikola Jokic is the reigning Most Valuable Player and is considered a worthy opponent by fellow contenders. The Slovenian has coped in the absence of Jamal Murray, who suffered an ACL tear in April 2021, and Michael Porter Jr., who has been sidelined with a back injury since November. Now, staying above 0.500 without those teammates is challenging enough, but to remain stuck in the thick of the playoff race, while your best teammates are Will Barton and Aaron Gordon is the sort of adversity that MVP voters can get behind.
Per Joel Embiid, much was made of his former teammate, Ben Simmons’ postseason performance, and the breakdown in relations between the duo forced the Sixers to find ways to win without the Australian. A clear task, but not a simple one, and Embiid has been up to the challenge while also navigating the Philadelphia 76ers acquisition of James Harden. However, we have seen the best version of Joel Embiid in the league, and is maintain that excellence, putting the Sixers in position to make a deep playoff run.
But once again, in comes Giannis. If you want to talk about narrative, Giannis is very formidable. you may ask yourself at this point in his story, what else is there for Giannis to do? He already won the award twice, led his team to the NBA Finals, and pushed them over the top to claim the title…he can’t possibly muster up another MVP-level narrative, can he?
Giannis since being told he only runs and dunks:— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 1, 2022
3x 1st Team All-NBA
3x 1st Team All-Defense
All-Star Game MVP
Iconic Finals block
Iconic Finals alley-oop
50-piece to win Finals
Top 3 MVP & DPOY this year
Imagine if he had any skill at all. pic.twitter.com/3wCMTjNNAH
Who is Your Pick for MVP?
Without a doubt, the race is down to the wire and the late heroics by the Bucks’ head honcho has given voters for the MVP hardware quite a lot to ponder going into the polls.
In 64 games this year, Giannis is draining 55-percent of his shots while averaging 30.1 points per game. With key wins over the Sixers and the Nets a few days ago, he gained a slight edge over his major contenders, who still have a few games, like Giannis himself, to improve their cases.
The Milwaukee Bucks (48-29) have a slightly better record than both Embiid’s Sixers (47-30) and Jokic’s Nuggets (46-32), and if he was to win this year’s MVP award, it would be his third trophy in four seasons.
Whoever wins at the end, it would have been a race well run by the contenders.
Who’s your pick for MVP this year?
I’ve argued for Luka… god knows many folks have argued for Jokic… Vegas says it’s Embiid.— nick wright (@getnickwright) March 30, 2022
Maybe we are all overthinking this and we should just give the MVP to the clear and obvious best player, who’s also the reigning Finals MVP?
Giannis come get your award.