With the 2021 NBA season somewhere around a quarter of the way through we thought it would be a good opportunity to look at some of the early NBA MVP contenders. Of course, it could all change with plenty of games left to play. We suspect at least a few of these names will be in the frame though come the end of the season.
5 contenders to the the 2021 MVP in the NBA
Alright, let’s get the ‘boring’ name out of the way first. We say boring from a media hype perspective only by the way; there is nothing boring about James or the way he plays the game. He is, however, the obvious choice for the MBA MVP award. Last season he missed out on the honour but scooped the finals MVP award after carrying the Lakers to the NBA championship and now it looks like he could well do so again.
The Lakers are positioned well in the standings with James the standout man on their roster. He’s just one of three players to have started every game, has more minutes under his belt than any of his teammates and sits head and shoulders above them when it comes to average points and assists per game. Where the wider NBA is concerned, he ranks third on the list of small forwards for points and tops the rankings for rebounds and assists too. He’s won it before and could win it again.
Serbian born Jokic is in the form of his life at the moment. The 6’11 center featured last year but hardly uprooted any trees with the time he had on court. Injuries have opened the door to him slightly more this season and, rather than put his foot in the door, he’s ripped it from the hinges. Jokic is now the crucial cog in the Nuggets side. His stats speak for themselves as he leads his team in every key category; if you’re in any doubt that’s points (26.8), rebounds (11.8), assists (8.6), steals (1.8) and blocks (0.6).
He’s carrying them. The Nuggets have tasted defeat eight times already this season though, which proves one man isn’t enough. It leaves a big question looming over Jokic in respect of the MVP award; does he has enough around him to help get him over the line. If we were forced to call it now, we think he’ll fall short in the race to become the 2021 NBA MVP. Regardless, it would be a near miracle if he remains in Denver next season.
If Jokic is having the best season of his career then the same has to be said for 76ers man Embiid. We might only be a quarter of the way through the current campaign but the Cameroonian looks set to post a career high points haul whilst maintaining a strong performance in respect of rebounds and blocks. At the moment, he’s averaging 29.1 points and 10.8 rebounds.
Whilst the stats mentioned are impressive, it’s not those catching the eye; that’s the efficiency rating of 31.52. If he keeps that up it will shatter the all-time record held by Michael Jordan. The other aspect of the season that lends itself to Embiid competing on the MVP front is the performance of his 76ers side. They already sit top of the Eastern Conference and should they go all the way, they’ll fear nobody. Their home record reads as 10-1 and they’ve already seen off James and the Lakers this season too.
The Bucks man is the reigning NBA MVP, as he has been in consecutive seasons, but how likely is it he makes it a hat-trick in 2021? Well, if you were worried Antetokounmpo was drifting out of the running then he once again showed he is worthy of a place in the conversation at the very least with his starring role against the Pistons a few nights back. The chatter before the game was about Myles Turner. A crushing Bucks win with Antetokounmpo recording a three quarter triple-double soon changed that.
Four defeats in six had threatened to derail the Bucks but they look back at it now. With their star man sinking an average of 27.0 points, taking 11.2 rebounds and teeing up teammates 6.0 times a game he’s not ready to give up his crown as the best in the NBA without a fight.
The final man we’re going to talk about is Kevin Durant. The Nets man knows a thing or two about the MVP award having won it back in 2014. His current performance isn’t quite at that level but it isn’t a million miles away with the only statistic noticeably down on that year his points per game, which sits at 29.5 this season as opposed to the league leading 32.0 he managed seven years ago. His 7.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists are very similar.
Durant might be lagging ever so slightly behind his career bests; he is still doing all the heavy lifting to keep his team in contention at the top of the Eastern Conference though. The former Seattle man has been forced to sit out the last couple of matches due to Covid protocols the league have in place. The Nets have lost both. He’s due back now and if he can fire them to anything close to triumphant season then the MVP nomination isn’t inconceivable.
So, who will win the 2021 NBA MVP award?
Yeah, it’s prediction time. The head says you can’t look beyond LeBron James. We’re going against the grain though and are backing Joel Embiid to emerge as the regular season MVP.