Every week, the 2022 MVP race suffers some significant changes. We have 10 good candidates that could make a push for the coveted award, even though there are only five players that can seriously aspire to take it once the regular season is over.
Nikola Jokic spent two weeks atop the ranking after dethroning 2x MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but now the Joker has had the same fate, dropping to the 2nd position at the hands of the hottest player in the league.
When Jokic climbed up to the 1st spot, Joel Embiid was already making noise to eventually steal that spot. Two weeks after the Serbian overtook Giannis, the Philadelphia 76ers center has done the same to him, becoming the favorite to win the 2022 NBA MVP award.
As every week, Michel C. Wright of NBA.com gives us the latest updates on this intense race. After an impressive display in January (where he won Player of the Month honors), the Cameroonian is now the frontrunner to win this prize. Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry close the top 5.
We mentioned Philly’s record of 4-8 with Embiid off the floor, but what’s most important is the Sixers are 27-12 when the big man plays. Deservedly, Embiid won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January, a month in which he absolutely caught fire. Over his 14 games in January, Embiid averaged an NBA-best 34.0 points to go with 10.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.5 blocks, all while shooting 54.2% from the floor. Since the 1981-82 season, Embiid is one of just five players to average 34 points and 10 rebounds in a month while playing in at least 10 games, joining Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Karl Malone, and Moses Malone.
Stephen Curry also climbed one position, returning to the top 5, surpassing Chicago Bulls' star DeMar DeRozan. Curry, who was the leader of this ranking for the first two months of competition, is recovering his level while helping the Golden State Warriors remain one of the best teams in the league.
The rest of the pack gives us two names that made it to the top 10 this week, demonstrating they are playing great basketball right now. Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic and Minnesota Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns rank 9th and 10th, respectively, trying to take their teams to the playoffs to have a deep run.
The Next Five:
6. DeMar DeRozan (Last week: No. 5)
7. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Last week: No. 8)
8. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Last week: No. 9)
9. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (Last week: unranked)
10. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Last week: unranked)
At this point, the only player in the current top 5 who hasn't led the ranking is Chris Paul, and the Phoenix Suns are playing great basketball right now. If they keep that level and CP3 continues his good pace, the Point God could make some noise in the next couple of weeks.
As for now, Embiid is leading the pack, hoping to keep this pace for the rest of the season and take revenge after finishing second in last season's voting, behind Nikola Jokic.