The 2021 season is nearing its conclusion and the playoffs are fast approaching. The best players in the world are evident and we all know which stars will be competing for the MVP Award. Joel Embiid and LeBron James were head to head at the start of the year, with each player guiding their teams to the best record in the NBA.
But injuries to both stars has shaken up the MVP Race to the point where only 5 players have a shot to win it. The King, LeBron James, is not in the conversation anymore. By taking into account individual statistics and value to their respective teams, here are the only 5 players who can win the MVP Award in 2021.
5. Damian Lillard
2020-2021 Statistics: 29.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 7.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 38.0% 3-PT FG
If Portland somehow grab a top-4 seed in the Western Conference, Damian Lillard has a legitimate shot for the MVP Award. The Trail Blazers superstar is having another sensational season, nailing shots from everywhere on the court and possibly usurping Stephen Curry as the best point guard in the NBA.
Lillard has a Hollinger’s PER score of 30.42 which ranks 8th in the league, and he is doing it with injuries to key players such as Jusuf Nurkic. Lillard is hungry for an NBA title, but if he keeps playing like the way he has and guides Portland to a higher seeding, he will be right in the discussion for the MVP Award.
4. Joel Embiid
2020-2021 Statistics: 29.9 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Joel Embiid is one of the best players in the world and was the leading contender for the MVP Award before his injury. Embiid is having his best season and is currently the best player for the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers are 2nd in the East, with a 35-16 record, and it is mainly because of Embiid.
The Cameroonian superstar is also efficient this season, nailing 52.1% from the field and 39.4% from three. Embiid has a Hollinger’s PER score of 36.77, which is first in the NBA. Embiid is also doing all this while playing only 32.5 MPG, which makes contending teams worried about the Sixers in the playoffs.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
2020-2021 Statistics: 28.8 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG
The Greek Freak will always be in the running for the MVP as long as he is healthy. He is just too dominant on both ends of the floor and is only getting better by the season. Giannis is averaging a monster double-double again, and his defensive impact is getting better as well. As one of the contenders for the Defensive Player of the Year Award once again, he is also an MVP candidate.
The Bucks are one of the best teams in the East and with the re-signing of Jrue Holiday, their core is set for the future. Giannis is 5th in triple-doubles with 7 so far this season and is leading his team to a 32-19 record as the 3rd seed in the East.
2. James Harden
2020-2021 Statistics: 25.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 10.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG
James Harden had a rough start to the season. He showed up out of shape for the Rockets and later forced his way out of the franchise. It goes against NBA lore why a player that does that can be an MVP contender, especially when he is joining 2 other superstar players.
But Harden is undeniably the best guard in the NBA. He is averaging a monster double-double with 25.2 PPG and 10.9 APG, and he has carried the Brooklyn Nets who have been without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at many points during the season. The Beard is unstoppable on offense, and despite his poor start to the season, he is second in the MVP race behind one player.
1. Nikola Jokic
2020-2021 Statistics: 26.3 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Nikola Jokic is the best player for the 4th seed in the Western Conference. The center is already the best passing big man in the history of the NBA and has one of the best all-around games we have ever seen. Jokic is nailing 57.1% of the field, 42.4% from three, and 85.8% from the free-throw line.
Jokic is the leading candidate because he has the stats, impact, and evidence that he is the most valuable player in the NBA. Without Jokic, the Nuggets are probably out of the playoffs and despite that, Denver has a 33-18 record. With Jokic having 12 triple-doubles (second behind Russell Westbrook) so far this season, he is the MVP.