Nikola Jokic? Jason Tatum? Luka Doncic? Who leads the NBA MVP run?


Nikola Jokic He has a chance to do something that not even Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Tim Duncan have accomplished. Jokić will have a chance to win his third consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player award. Only three players in league history have won back-to-back MVPs: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird.


The NBA MVP award will carry intrigue even if we underestimate Jokić’s three-peat attempt. No individual league honor holds the same amount of importance.

So how does this season’s MVP race shape up?

To answer this question, we turned to three members the athlete‘s NBA Employees who voted for the award last year: Zack HarperAnd Josh Robbins And Anthony Slater.

What are your criteria for choosing the best player in the NBA? Do you choose the best player in the best team? Do you pick the one who posts the best stats?

Zack Harper: I have a lot of different things to keep in mind. There are no set standards across the board for me because every season is different. I try not to compare a season to a previous season for any player or a criterion for why that year’s MVP was chosen. While I think historical precedent is important, each individual season fits perfectly within itself.

I’m looking for a few. Player production is important. Are these historical numbers? Are these numbers few others do? What is the impact of these numbers? Team success matters. Is the team performing at the elite level? Is the team fully supported because of this player? Would it be much worse if this player was injured or removed? player effect. This plays into the team’s success, but can that team survive without the player on the ground?

Other factors concern me as well. What is its perceived value Personal as it can be? Does the player hang on and go out to pull toys when everyone knows he’s got the ball? What was the league’s narrative that season, and how does the player’s narrative fit into that?

Josh Robbins: Here’s how I distilled my thought process for this award: Who has made the most irreplaceable contribution to winning for their team? Here’s another way to put it: If you removed this player from your team (perhaps due to injury), how much impact would his absence have on the team’s record?

Stats are important – but they’re not the best in the end. I mean, Carmelo Anthony led the league in scoring during the 2012-13 season with 28.7 points per game and led the team New York Knicks to the seventh-best record in the league, but he would not have received an MVP vote.

Order matters. Durability is important. and defense matters. The one who hurts his team on defense will be less likely to appear on top of the ballot.

Anthony Slater: It’s never quite as simple as the best player on the best team. the Boston Celtics Best record in the league. Jason Tatum I will not be in the top three. the Phoenix Suns He pulled away from everyone else with 64 wins last season. Devin Booker Great. He hasn’t had a realistic MVP case over the top tier of candidates. But team victories matter. The higher your seed, the stronger you check that box. If you finish playing or the sweepstakes, you are unofficially disqualified.

For stats: raw numbers matter. You will never find a top player who is not among the league leaders in major categories. The games played are of great importance. I like candidates to score at least 65 to 70 matches. If you get the Range 80, this full size can really strengthen the case. Jokić has only missed one game and eight in the past two seasons. This was a factor. Furthermore, I’m not really into deeper analytical formulas, but the on/off metrics grab my attention. If you’re obviously raising an inferior support team, this screams value.

Nikola Jokic has won the last two Best Player Awards. How much do you think voter fatigue or the desire to change the winner will influence voter decisions this season?

Harper: While I don’t tend to think voter fatigue is for me, I can’t pretend that didn’t happen. A good example of this Giannis Antikonmo. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 2018-19 and 2019-20. However, the Milwaukee Bucks It was very disappointing or infamous in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

I asked some voters (who will remain anonymous here) if they would consider Giannis again for a third consecutive MVP if he had similar seasons. Almost all of them (about a dozen people) said they would likely not vote for him because of his past postseason shortcomings. I’m putting that down to voter fatigue, and it makes me wonder if Jokic (who hasn’t had much success for the team in the postseason) might be hit by the same thing.

Perhaps the precedent of the first back-to-back MVP since Larry Bird in the ’80s doesn’t sit well with some voters? It all sounds like elements of voter fatigue. It wouldn’t affect my personal vote, but I think it’s true.

Robbins: I think the desire to change the winner – to be fair, which is a laudable aim – will influence some of the electorate’s decisions, but not as much if Joki is seen to have had a better season this year than he did in 2021-22 and more importantly, whether Denver Nuggets Enjoying a better regular season than in 2021-22.

What Zach said about how the Bucks’ postseason ignition in 2019 and 2020 will affect 2020-21 is troubling to me. Previous post results, negative or positive, shall have no bearing on the Most Valuable Player award, which is a regular season honor.

Slater: Oh, I’m sure it will be important to some. I felt like Giannis took that hit two years ago after winning twice in a row but never making it into the playoffs. He had a stronger case that season than he got in the finale. It might be a tie breaker for some voters. I will admit that I entered the season with a more skeptical view of Joki’s season from an MVP perspective. But you can’t ignore reality. Joki is clearly a top three candidate up to this point – the The frontrunner, in some eyes – and I think the current voter pulse will reflect that.

Can Nikola Jokic play MVP? (Ron Chinoy/USA Today)

How crowded is the square this year? In other words, how difficult would it be to choose given what’s happened so far in the season?

Harper: Because of the injuries around the league, I don’t think it’s as crowded as other people think. booker, Stephen CurryAnd Kevin Durantand giannis f Joel Embiid Everything will be there for me without missing out on a large number of games. Unfortunately they have exactly that. Curry missed nearly a month. Booker has played barely three games since December 10. Embiid missed twelve games. Giannis missed dozens of matches.

Durant has only missed seven contests, but a knee injury could take longer than him. Joki has missed a few games, and Tatum has only missed a few. It’s not the definitive factor in this award, but when we sift through a crowded field of offerings, games miss it. Depending on how long it takes for Durant’s knee to get him back on the court, I think this is a two-horse race with Jokic and Tatum. Luka Donjic It’s on my ballot, but I think it ranks below those two at this time.

Robbins: At the moment, this is a crowded field. This is where the number of matches played had a strong impact on this award. On January 7, when Durant played in 38 games Brooklyn Nets’ 39 games, Durant has been in my top two because of his shooting proficiency and, above all, how he keeps the net afloat while Kyrie IrvingCommentary by Ben Simmons and early season rust by Ben Simmons. But Durant suffered a knee injury on January 8, and it’s hard to imagine him playing enough games by the end of the season to get him back into the mix.

Slater: Crowded, but the drain of each regular season starts to wear it down. Curry and Durant have been in the mix a lot for a month now. But Curry has missed a few weeks, and Durant could miss a month due to his current knee injury. Curry’s game cap is now 67, and that’s only going to go down. Durant will be somewhere similar. They’re not completely out of the picture, but it’s hard to beat this low volume. Zion Williamson He had a moment but then his hamstring strained.

The NBA asks voters to choose the first, second, third, fourth and fifth place MVP. Looking only through the January 23rd games — just over halfway through the season — how would you vote today?

Harper: This is very difficult. I switch between Jokić and Tatum pretty much every day. For now, it will be Tatum first, Jokic second, Durant third, Doncic fourth and Embiid fifth. But I’m not even sure how much of that holds up at the end of this sentence.

Robbins: This is how I would vote with the games played so far: Jokić first, followed in order by Tatum, Antetokounmpo, Embiid and Durant. It hurts me to leave Donjic among the top five, but he is Mavericks It wasn’t as dominant as the teams of players in the top five. Dončić will move against Durant if Dončić remains healthy.

Slater: I’m top at what Dončić has done. I will put Joki first and Dončić second. Antitokonmo III. Embed IV. After that, I still have Durant in fifth place, although he could miss many games (and he will qualify). This leaves Tatum temporarily off the ballot, possibly an unpopular opinion among voters. But I think it’s in the next level of players, and it’s less paid than the true elite in the league. Boston loaded. Jaylen Brown He is a high profile co-star. Tatum is great, but the team’s success is more collective. I just don’t think it makes this kind of nighttime effect quite like the five that lay on top of it.

What separated your choice of winner from your choice of runner-up?

Harper: For me now, it plays on both sides of the floor. Joki numbers are just stupid. It doesn’t even make sense most nights, but I don’t want to be blown away by the explosion of numbers on today’s game. He doesn’t deny what he does and they are perfect at games he gets triple-doubles. However, Tatum is an elite defender most nights to go with his unstoppable scoring. Teams can’t take anything from him. Jokić was actually a strong defensive player last season, and I’ve come down with them being healthier. However, calling this race skinny doesn’t do him justice.

Robbins: Celtics fans may consider my choice of Tatum as runner-up to be disrespectful. not like that! It’s just that Jokić has been better, having played in more matches and on the cusp of averaging triple-double for a full season. Jokić is Denver’s dominant playmaker, the one who makes the offense work. Denver is 30-11 this season in games played by Jokic and 3-3 in games missed. Jokić also has a statistically historic season, especially for a senior, averaging 25.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game. He also shoots 62.6 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from outside the arc.

Slater: arrangement. Denver has fallen out of the middle of the conference in recent weeks. The Nuggets 33-14, number one seed in the West, lead 8 1/2 games over the Mavericks, in fifth place at 25-23. That’s a big enough gap to separate Jokić and Dončić, even though Denver’s supportive team is better than the Dallas team. Both of their on/off scales are insane. Their teams fall off a cliff when either of them leaves the ground. But Joki is more attractive. They are plus 388 when he’s on the floor and -183 when he’s off the bench.


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(Photo illustration: Samuel Richardson/ the athlete; (Images: Dustin Satloff/Jacob Kupferman/Caitlin Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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