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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Palmore

Who Will Win this Year's MVP?

This year's MVP race has been one of the tightest we have had in a while and it really comes down to three players in terms of who is most deserving of the award. In all likelihood, the three finalists for MVP will be Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets, and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. All three players are having spectacular seasons that certainly make them contenders to win the award, but there can only be one winner. Let's take a more in-depth look a the seasons these three players are having.

Joel Embiid:

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After an extremely disappointing end to last season for the 76ers, the team entered the offseason with nothing but uncertainty about the franchise's future. After Ben Simmons felt like he was being unfairly blamed for Philadelphia's game seven loss to Atlanta, he decided to turn the page on the 76ers and not play for the team. With the absence of Simmons, all eyes turned towards Embiid to elevate his MVP level play from a year ago and carry the 76ers. So far, he has done just that. In his sixth season, Embiid is averaging a career high 29.7 points per game (tied with Giannis for the league lead), 11.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists.

The numbers should not be the part of Embiid's season that makes Philly fans excited for what's to come, instead it should be that Embiid has been able to participate in 52 out 64 games this year with a significant amount time missed due to COVID protocols and not injury. Embiid has embraced how dominant he can be as a paint presence and not only is he the most dominant center in the game, he is extremely skilled down low, can hit shots from the mid-range, and extend his game to the three point line where he is knocking down 35% of his threes. With the Sixers bringing in James Harden, it looks like Philly has finally found the right guard to pair with Embiid's rare combination of athleticism, size, and strength. Although the standings may not show it, the Sixers are a better team due to the emergence of Tyrese Maxey and the acquisition of James Harden, but none of those things would matter if Joel Embiid was not playing at the level he is right now. Out of these MVP candidates, he has been the most consistent in terms of playing up to his potential this year.

Nikola Jokić:

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Nikola Jokić is the reigning MVP and based on the season he is having, he might just come away with the award again. The Joker is averaging 26 points per game, just under 14 rebounds per game, and an absurd 8 assists per game while leading the Denver Nuggets to the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets have been without the services of Jamal Murray all season and arguably their best young scorer, Michael porter Jr., who has played a grand total of nine games due to injury. Jokić might be the most unique player in the NBA in terms of a center who is essentially his team's full time point guard who runs the show from opening tip until the final buzzer for the Nuggets.

Much like Joel Embiid, Jokić is comfortbale scoring from anywhere on the floor and at over 280 lbs, it is almost impossible to compete with him down low in the post. In the last three games, Jokić has scored 38 points against Sacramento, 32 points against the Warriors, and 46 points against the Pelicans. It is crazy to think about how good the Nuggets are with the absences of guys like Murray and Porter Jr. and it's thanks to Nikola Jokić. Nikola Jokić would be the first player to win back-to-back MVP awards since Giannis did it in 2019 and 2020.

Giannis Antetokounmpo:

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After two straight years of heartbreaking playoff meltdowns, Giannis finally backed up his back-to-back MVP selections with a stellar playoff run for the Milwaukee Bucks last year that resulted in the team's first title in 50 years. Following a dominant NBA Finals performance, Giannis is arguably having the best season of his already all-time great NBA career. The Greek Freak is tied with Joel Embiid in scoring at 29.7 points per game, and he's averaging 11.5 rebounds per game and a career high 6 assists per game. Giannis also currently has highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating) at 32.66 and if that stands, he will break Nikola Jokić's record from last year at 32.43. Milwaukee is quietly sitting as the second seed in the East and the only real concern for them is getting key guys like Brook Lopez back in time for the playoffs.

Giannis has had a fantastic season overall, but the Greek Freak's MVP campaign really started on Christmas Day against the Celtics after a 36/12/5 performance to secure a comeback victory for the Bucks. That game was his first game back from COVID protocols and that kickstarted a month of January where he averaged 32/11/6, and a month of February where he averaged 32/12/7. Giannis is currently coming off back-to-back games of 39 points and 43 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Atlanta Hawks respectively. Giannis was already named to the 75th Anniversary team and another MVP would only add to his already historic legacy.

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