Read more about Sky Sports’ top-five MVP frontrunners, from Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic to the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, with some eye-opening stats to match as we outline the league’s biggest characters.
6) Ja Morant
It might seem a bit harsh to have Morant so low down on the list, but the others certainly put his scintillating playmaking into perspective.
Indeed, there’s no doubt that the Grizzlies star is a prospective talisman; with him in the mix, the Grizzlies have the second-best record in the Western Conferences.
That they are dismantling some of the best defences in the league with a 6ft 2ins guard, topping 27 points a game, speaks for itself.
Where he might slightly fall behind in the standings is his scoring efficiency, with Morant shooting under 45 per cent on twos. Other than that, he is on pace to miss more than 11 games this season, and that if anything, is unlikely to make him the winner.
5) Nikola Jokic
Nikola ‘the joker’ Jokic comes in at number five, operating as the defending MVP, winning it two times in the past two years.
Does that make his position in our standings slightly perplexing? Probably. He owns the highest net-rating swing in the league by a hilarious margin and consistently puts up triple-doubles, including an absurd 69.2 per cent on twos.
His numbers in the last few seasons have slipped. He’s dropped in his free-throw shooting, and has struggled to remain the centre-piece in Denver as both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. make their steady returns from injury.
It wouldn’t be so surprising if he did win a third consecutive title. But this season’s NBA has been too competitive for it to be limited to someone who’s already won it.
4) Stephen Curry
At 14-14, and with a woeful record on the road, it’s a one-man show in Golden State. Yep, you guessed it: Stephen Curry.
Though it may not be the thing currently attracting attention within the franchise, Curry is putting up numbers consistent to when he won the award in 2016.
|Points per game||30.0||30.1|
|Field goal percentage||50.4||49.9|
|True shooting percentage||63||62.4|
|Effective field goal percentage||66.9||66.4|
And if fans are curious as to whether the Warriors’ poor form might put him out of the chase, they only have to take a look at how Jokic snapped it up over the last two years, despite the Nuggets’ shortcomings.
Continue to rack up similar numbers and Curry will be a candidate. Even at 34-years-old, it seems that there are still some more gears for the Dubs star to level up into.
3) Giannis Antetokounmpo
Heading into the top three MVP predictions is the man they call the ‘Greek Freak’. Currently averaging 31.8 points and 11.2 assists a game, Giannis has displayed phenomenal skill and physical ability, even without his co-star Khris Middleton out for most of the season.
That’s not all. He’s spent the last two weeks shooting 79.4 per cent inside the dotted lines, 35.0 per cent from three, and 71.7 per cent on 10 free-throw attempts per game.
With the Milwaukee Bucks contending just behind the Boston Celtics in the East Conference, Giannis will have to contend with Jayson Tatum for pole position. With his monsterous defensive capabilities, it’ll be a close call come the end of the season.
2) Jayson Tatum
Tatum rolls into second place, and rightly so. The Boston star is averaging career-high points (30.8) and rebounds (8.3) while shooting a career-best 48 per cent from the floor.
He’s also doing it defensively too. Indeed, Tatum is just one of five players averaging at least one block and one steal per game.
With the Celtics operating as the best team in the league, Tatum is definitely one of the best players in it. Even within the team, Jalen Brown comes in as a notable mention in our MVP standings.
With Tatum on track to be a part of the Celtics’ 66-win season, he’ll have more than enough opportunity to stake his claim.
1) Luka Doncic
It’s got to be Luka – he’s all everyone’s talking about right now.
Only 23, Doncic is the first player ever in NBA history to average more than 32 points, more than eight boards, and more than eight assists over the first 25 games of a season.
So far, he’s averaging 33.1 points this season, all the while, dragging the Mavericks past the Warriors and plenty of other teams in the West Conference.
While Morant and Jokic may seem sensational as individuals, Doncic is racking up the records, as well as pulling his team through stretches of bad form, game after game, often without rest.
At the moment, it’s his trophy to lose. Stay on this path, and he’ll be stealing the title from some of the NBA’s best.
Outside of the top five picks, there are still some tricky characters who could squeeze themselves into the MVP trophy permutations. So, in no particular order, dive in below…
5) Devin Booker
Booker finished fourth in MVP voting last year, and it was his performances that helped the Suns to the best record in the West, before a triad of recent injuries led to a losing streak.
Compared to the others in this list, Booker has the ability to nuke defences, but sometimes a high-pressing team doesn’t bring out the best of that, hence his positioning in the possible picks.
4) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Don’t ignore SGA.
Fresh off scoring 42 points against the Dallas Mavericks (in a game that Doncic overshadowed), the Thunder have a star in their midst that excites every time he ventures inside the arc.
His ballhandling skills and quick feet make him a menace to mark against, and he defines his team’s half-court defence in every way possible.
The Thunder do have a stretch of games now that come against playoff hopefuls. His form will be closely monitored if he is to remain a possible pick.
3) Kevin Durant
Durant is making more and more of a claim to be in the actual standings, and not just possible picks. Indeed, he currently leads the NBA in minutes and is averaging 30 points per game with 66.2 per cent true shooting for the Eastern Conferences fourth-best team.
For the Brooklyn Nets, he’s often been the star player on the court, despite the fact that off-court drama has overshadowed many of his brilliant moves.
Shooting at a whopping 58 per cent from mid-range, makes his positioning in these standings more suspect. Yet with a questionable three-point record, and frequent visits to the medical bay, perhaps this isn’t all that bad of a spot for him to be in.
2) Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis was in prolific form before he was side-lined with flu-like symptoms. Indeed, he racked up a monstrous 55 points against the Washington Wizards – and that was two days after dropping 44 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The fact that only a viral illness could contain him speaks volumes. Should he be able to relocate that form upon recovery, then the rest of the league will only be able to watch as he exploded on the court.
1) Zion Williamson
He meets the winning criteria, and in that sense, so have the New Orleans Pelicans of late.
Indeed, they are currently topping the Western Conference at 18-9, and that’s been without Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum. Instead, Williamson has led the charge, averaging 25.0 points, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game while converting 62 per cent of his twos.
Should he continue in this form without any real support structure on hand, then the narrative will well and truly exist for a MVP push.
There are a few players who didn’t make either list (we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether they should have!).
In no particular order: Donovan Mitchell, Paul George, Jalen Brown, Joel Embiid. Keep an eye on our standings and the live NBA schedule for any changes.
#MVP #Predictions #Sky #Sports #predictions #picks #notable #mentions #NBA #News