Between the Greek Freak, the Bearded One, “No OT Tonight PG13”, and the Denver Joker, the MVP race is a fun one this year in the NBA.
If you’ve been watching NBA basketball this season, you’d know it’s a spicy year. It seems to be the year of the offense, with more high-scoring games than ever before. There is no disappointment in the star department either, with the MVP race actually being pretty close this year.
These are the top four MVP candidates and their case to win (in no particular order) as of the 2019 all-star break:
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The Greek Freak has been steadily improving since he came into the league. He has always been touted as having so much potential, because of his sheer length and athleticism. He’s had skill, but he’s improved and combined all his positive attributes into success.
So far, Giannis is averaging 27.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks on 58%/22%/71% shooting splits, to go with 3.8 turnovers a game in 33 minutes. He’s played in 53 games, leading his team to a 43-14 record, good for first place in the entire NBA.
With his endlessly improving play, he makes his teammates around him better, a sign of a genuinely good player. If the regular season ended today, Giannis would be your MVP.
James Harden, Houston Rockets (2018 MVP Winner)
James Harden is coming off a phenomenal year in which he took the MVP trophy. Arguably, he should’ve won the prior year (2017, Russell Westbrook), but he’ll settle with last years. Harden is playing better than ever, stepping up in the absence of Clint Capela and (briefly) Chris Paul again.
At the break, Harden is averaging 36.6pts/6.7rbds/7.7asts/2.2stls/0.8blks a game on 44%/37%/87% shooting along with 5.4 turnovers a game in 37 minutes. He’s started in 54 games, and the Rockets are 33-24, making them 5th in the Western Conference.
The Western Conference has been stacked for years, so the fact that the Rockets are in the top 5 at all is insane. Harden’s been on a truly remarkable stretch lately, pretty much single-handedly carrying the Rockets to a winning record. If the season ended today, despite his absurd scoring numbers, he’d come in second place.
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
George is having the best year of his career, such a welcoming sight for the 28 year old just a few years removed from a devastating injury. PG13 has never looked stronger or more locked-in than now. He seems to be a perfect pair to Russell Westbrook, and now nobody thinks of Kevin Durant when they think of the best partner to Westbrook.
Going into all star, George is averaging 28.7pts/8rbds/4.1asts/2.2stls/0.5blks a game with 45%/40%/83% shooting, to go with just 2.6 turnovers in 36 minutes. George has played in 56/57 possible games, and the Thunder sit at a record of 37-20, making them 3rd in the Western Conference.
Any of the players on this list could easily win an MVP if they were playing in a different year. That is certainly the case for Paul George, as his numbers and team record alone would make him an MVP in multiple years. Unfortunately, it seems that PG13’s bid for MVP is held back by the fact that he plays with another MVP in Westbrook, and that there is another candidate in the conference just slightly edging him out. PG13 comes 4th in MVP voting this year.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
If you were writing this list just a few years ago, Jokic is the only name that might surprise you. Being just 23 years old and already this good is terrifying. Jokic is the best player since Carmelo Anthony to wear a Nuggets jersey, and he’s really good.
At the midway mark, Jokic is averaging 20.4pts/10.6rbds/7.7asts/1.4stls/0.6blks a game with 50%/31%/85% shooting with 3.2 turnovers every game in 31.6 minutes. As a 7’0 center. Jokic too has played in 56/57 games, but his Nuggets are 39-18, making them 2nd in the Western Conference.
As a center, Jokic is fifth in the league in assists. That’s simply insane and unheard of. The man has had countless triple-doubles this season, and it seems like everything he does helps his team win. He might not score as many points as other people on this list, but for a 7’0 center to average that many assists indicates he’s an unselfish playmaker, and an overall bonus on either side of the court. If Giannis and Harden weren’t both having insane years, Jokic could take an MVP. Unfortunately though, they do, and because of that, Jokic comes in 3rd place in MVP voting.