Now that we are a quarter of the way through the NBA season it’s time for everybody’s favorite talking point.
Who Are the Top NBA MVP Contenders?
If we are looking at the probability of becoming NBA league MVP according to basketballreference.com there are four contenders lightyears above the rest.
- Nikola Jokic 30% chance of winning
- Luka Donicic 21.5%
- Giannis Anteokounmpo 17.4%
- Jayson Tatum 9.5%
- Kevin Durant 4.8%
Now that we have the stats, let’s take a look at my personal top 3 contenders for NBA League MVP.
3. Luka Doncic
The Dallas Mavericks are currently sitting just above .500 with a record of 14-13. One of my most significant deciding factors regarding the NBA league MVP is the importance the player has on his team’s success. Dallas is the only .500 team on the MVP list with the Celtics, Nugs, and Bucks having significantly better records.
But, we can’t put this all on Luka as he is having a magnificent season so far.
Luka is shooting lights out from the field hitting over 50% of his 22.7 attempts per game. He is also shooting the 3 ball higher than his career average. He is currently hitting 33% of three-point shots on 8.3 attempts per game.
Another impressive stat is the list-leading 1.7 steals per game, this is almost double his career average of 1.1 SPG. One troubling area is his ability to protect the ball. A quarter way through the season Luka is averaging 3.6 turnovers per game.
Luka may be one of my favorite players in the league right now but he is far from my League MVP pick.
2. Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic; our only big man on the list comes as no surprise to NBA fans. Joker currently has a commanding lead in the MVP race with an impressive stat line.
This season Jokic is averaging 23.8 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 9.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, and .7 BPG. No wonder he has such a strong lead on the rest of the league.
In my opinion, what makes Joker such a dominant big man is his efficiency. So far this season he is shooting a list-leading 6 5% from the field and 32% from deep!
It’s honestly hard to make a case for why Jokic shouldn’t be number 1 on my list.
True, he may currently have the best stats on this list, but is he really the most valuable player here?
The Nuggets are off to an impressive start of 16-10, but it’s still not as impressive as my number 1 pick. Jokic also has the least amount of minutes played among these three players.
In my eyes, the most important aspect of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player really comes down to the impact they have on their team winning, not just who has the best stat line.
So who has more of an impact on their team than the league’s number 1 big man?
1. Jayson Tatum
Call me a homer all you want, by as of right now Jayson Tatum is the NBA’s MVP
When it comes to making the largest impact on the court Jayson Tatum is the easy pick from this list.
The Celtics are currently sitting at the top of the league with an astounding 22-7 record at the time of writing. Tatum is also putting up the most minutes per game on this list averaging 37 mpg and starting in 28 of the C’s 29 games. His stats are nothing to bat an eye at averaging 30.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG & 4.1 APG. (per https://www.statmuse.com/nba/player/jayson-tatum-9582) All three of these stats are sitting above his career averages of 21.5, 6.7, 3.1.
What’s really impressive is his ability to play both ends of the floor averaging 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Tatum is the only defender on the list averaging at least one of each per game.
Tatum still has some stiff competition in the east with Giannis right on his heels, but Tatum’s ability to win is something these others are currently lacking.
JT is playing at a caliber above the rest here, and he’s playing in an unselfish manner not often seen with superstar-level players. His basketball IQ, the constant court awareness, the off-ball flare screens, or the ability to make extra passes before a team’s defense can even consider a rotation.
The Boston Celtics are gelling on a level we don’t always see and they’re setting up to have a record-breaking season. Only time will tell if they are able to maintain this level of momentum but one thing I’m certain of,
None of this would be possible without NBA MVP Contender Jayson Tatum manning the reins.
– @BlairTalksBall on Twitter
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