The NBA season is well underway and most teams have played a minimum of 17 games. While it is still early to tell, we have a solid idea of the standings on both conferences. The Los Angeles Lakers have looked supremely dominant as expected, but the Philadelphia 76ers have looked just as good if not better.
Both of these teams have superstars of their own, and they are well ahead in the race for the MVP Award in 2021. The Sixers took down the Lakers thanks to a Tobias Harris game-winner last night and both teams will be top contenders entering the Playoffs. With nearly a quarter of the season out the way, here are the MVP rankings in the association.
2020-20201 Statistics: 28.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 7.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
The fact that only Damian Lillard can threaten Stephen Curry as the league’s best shooter and point guard is enough to earn him an honorable mention. Lillard has once again been forced to carry the Trail Blazers without Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum for stretches, and he has performed very well. Lillard has big numbers but the Blazers won’t win enough games this season to legitimately earn him an MVP Award.
10. Paul George
2020-20201 Statistics: 23.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG
It is time to put some respect on Paul George's name. The All-Star promised a comeback season and he hasn't disappointed. George is playing like his MVP self and the Clippers are once again a top-3 team in the West. George is still one of the best 2-way players in the NBA and if he continues his level of play, the Clippers are the biggest threat to the Lakers in the West.
9. Stephen Curry
2020-20201 Statistics: 27.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG
What more can you say about Stephen Curry that wasn't said already? He is the best shooter in the NBA and the only reason the Warriors are above .500. The return of Draymond Green has helped a lot, but Curry’s scoring (top-5 in the NBA) has carried an otherwise sub-par squad to a playoff seeding. If the Warriors string together some wins, Curry’s name will be in the top-5 as the season progresses.
8. Luka Doncic
2020-20201 Statistics: 27.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 9.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Luka will likely be an MVP candidate for the rest of his career, but Dallas have not played at their best. They have a below .500 record and can’t seem to find a rhythm without Kristaps Porzingis suiting up for the team. Doncic has MVP numbers but his three-point shooting has been putrid (28.5%) and his team simply isn't winning enough at the moment. Doncic could help Dallas get a high standing in the West at some point in 2021 but an MVP Award is likely out of the question.
7. Donovan Mitchell
2020-20201 Statistics: 23.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.9 PPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Donovan Mitchell has unfortunately been in the news thanks to Shaquille O'Neal's criticism, but he has been having his best season yet. Mitchell does not have MVP numbers, but he has had an MVP impact for the Jazz. Mitchell has finally found help in the form of Mike Conley Jr. and Rudy Gobert will be forced to improve his production after a massive contract extension. Mitchell deserves his place in the rankings even though he won’t win the MVP Award.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo
2020-20201 Statistics: 26.8 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Giannis has been excellent as usual, but he has not outperformed the guys ahead of him. Durant is a much more efficient scorer, LeBron is just a better player, and Embiid is killing the East right now. It seems like Giannis will have to settle for being a 2-time MVP for now because unless the Bucks go on a long winning streak, it seems he will miss out on his 3rd MVP Award this year.
5. Kawhi Leonard
2020-20201 Statistics: 25.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.7 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG
As good as Paul George has been, Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the Clippers. Kawhi is the only player in the NBA right now averaging at least 25. PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 2.0 SPG. The Claw has been a massive factor in the West this season and he is the main reason the Clippers are third in the West right now. The Clippers will be a top-3 seed all season long, but it might not be enough to earn him the MVP over the other 4 guys ahead of him.
4. Nikola Jokic
2020-20201 Statistics: 25.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 8.9 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The talented center has been near perfection all season long. He is averaging a near triple-double so far this season and has carried Denver on his back. The Nuggets have been terribly inconsistent but Jokic has kept them afloat with the 11-7 record. If the Nuggets creep up to a top-2 or top-3 seed, Jokic has as big of a shot as the guys ahead of him to win MVP. But until then, he misses out on the top-3.
3. Kevin Durant
2020-20201 Statistics: 30.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.5 BPG
Kevin Durant, against all odds, is back to his very best. The Slim Reaper is the undisputed best player in Brooklyn, even with the arrival of 3-time scoring champion James Harden. While playing with Harden and Kyrie Irving should hurt Durant’s stats, it hasn’t so far and KD is having one of his best seasons yet. Brooklyn is a major contender for the Finals this year and Durant is the main reason why.
2. Joel Embiid
2020-20201 Statistics: 27.7 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Joel Embiid is finally playing like the best big man in the league. The arrivals of Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey has helped him immensely by surrounding him with a better roster with more spacing. Joel Embiid is the key to the Sixers this season and if he isn't playing at an MVP level, the team really had no chance. Embiid scores, defends and rebounds at a superstar level, and the quality of shooters around him has made him more deadly. Only one man is ahead of Embiid for the MVP Award and the race will get tighter as the season progresses.
1. LeBron James
2020-20201 Statistics: 25.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG
There is no question who the best player in the world is right now. James is again having an extraordinary season and his shooting has been on point. James is nailing 41.1% of his threes, which is possibly the reason the Lakers are so difficult to beat. With Anthony Davis yet to reach his best form, LeBron's leadership for his team and some great performances (46 point performance vs. Blazers) have placed the Lakers first in the West. For now, LeBron is ahead of Embiid for the MVP Award despite the loss to Philly a few nights ago.