Three months into the season, the league’s Most Valuable Player award is up for grabs as stars including Joel Embiid, LeBron James and Kevin Durant have been sidelined.
To determine the top contenders for the MVP award, HoopsHype anonymously polled 20 media members who voted on last year’s awards for their current top five MVP rankings. You’ll notice there is a new member on the MVP ladder since our February media MVP poll.
As with the official vote, the top player received 10 points, the second received seven points, the third received five points, the fourth received three points, and the fifth player received one point for each ballot.
1. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia)
Share of the vote: 84 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 1
The only thing that could stop Embiid this season was a left knee bone bruise.
Joel Embiid heads to the locker room after landing awkwardly on his knee
Prayers up 🙏 pic.twitter.com/6APvglRBmD
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 13, 2021
When Embiid’s on the floor, there haven’t been many players, if any, better. He ranks second in player efficiency rating (31.4), third in points per game (29.9), defensive rating (103.4) and usage percentage (34.1), fourth in win shares (6.2), and seventh in rebounds per game (11.5)
Despite his injury, the 27-year-old center also still ranks second overall in total free throws made (304) and third in attempts (354).
2. LeBron James (LA Lakers)
Share of the vote: 80.7 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 2
King James was recently dethroned by a high right ankle sprain that will have him sidelined indefinitely.
LeBron James tweaked his right ankle then returned to the game briefly before heading to the locker room.
Hoping for the best for LeBron. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ySToneJwhC
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 20, 2021
When he’s on the court, James has thwarted Father Time while ranking second in defensive win shares (2.6), fifth in defensive rating (105.0) and assist percentage (40.0), seventh in win shares (5.8) ninth in player efficiency rating (24.8), and 10th in usage percentage (31.7).
With James and Anthony Davis out of the lineup, it’s a golden opportunity for the Clippers, Trail Blazers, and Nuggets to move up the standings and take hold of a top-four seed in the West.
3. Nikola Jokic (Denver)
Share of the vote: 74 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 3
Jokic is the league’s most efficient player with a 31.6 PER and has taken his offensive game to new levels by shooting a career-best 56.6 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from downtown, and 86.6 percent from the foul line.
Jokic has remained consistent all season. If the Nuggets continue to climb the standings in the West and Jokic remains healthy, he’ll enhance his chance to win the award while Embiid and James watch from the sideline.
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) March 21, 2021
4. Damian Lillard (Portland)
Share of the vote: 46.7 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 4
You don’t need your watch to know the fourth quarter is “Lillard Time” or that he has more range than Verizon Wireless on his jumper.
Whether it’s stretching the defense beyond the arc or attacking defenders at the rim, Lillard has been a terror on defenses nightly without his usual backcourt sidekick CJ McCollum in the lineup for much of the season.
He’s scored the most points overall in the league (1225), ranks second in three-pointers made (176), and has made the third-most free throws overall (291).
5. James Harden (Brooklyn)
Share of the vote: 32.67 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 7
Harden has been an iron man this season leading the league in minutes per game (37.9) and is the league’s top playmaker averaging 11.2 assists per game.
With Durant out since Feb. 5th, Harden has become Brooklyn’s top playmaker and has been able to coexist seamlessly with Kyrie Irving in the backcourt, who is having the most efficient shooting season of his career.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
Share of the vote: 22 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 9
7. Stephen Curry (Golden State)
Share of the vote: 3.33 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 5
8. Kevin Durant (Brooklyn)
Share of the vote: 2 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: No. 6
9. Chris Paul (Phoenix)
Share of the vote: 1.3 percent of maximum amount possible
February MVP ranking: Unranked
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto