Written by Lonnie Orr Jr.
Last night we got our first glimpse of the two front runners for MVP in a matchup against each other. James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo engaged in battle that proves that they are both are going to be in the MVP running at the end of the season. Giannis put up a huge double-double with 27 points and 21 rebounds, while Harden has continued his hot streak and put up another 40-point game as well as 11 rebounds and 6 assists. Harden has been on a tear as of lately, scoring over 30 points in his last 14 games. Giannis has continued to be an all-around asset to his team while leading them to number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference as of now.
The question is, what will voters determine as more important? One guy is leading his team to be the number one team in the conference, while the other is doing whatever it takes just to keep his team a float in the gauntlet of the Western Conference. It’s still early in the season and things can change at the blink of an eye. It’s clear though that those two are the front runners as of now, but we can’t take exception to the other guys in this race. Other names to mention must be Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and my sleeper pick Nikola Jokic.
Now it’s hard to justify Anthony Davis as the MVP because his team isn’t in a playoff position, but all know that he is the reason the Pelicans are even relevant. He is the guy that has the least amount of talent around him, yet the Pelicans are always in games because of his performance. LeBron James is LeBron James, and though that may sound vague it’s because he continues to play at a MVP caliber and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s clearly a difference when he is off the floor for the Lakers, with them going 3-5 without him. The Lakers were clearly a lottery team without him (as well as Cleveland), but now they have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard has the Toronto Raptors believing this is their year to reach the finals. They have come up short in the past couple of years, but this is the year they don’t have to go through a LeBron James led team. Kawhi gives them something that they haven’t had before. They’ve never had that guy that could impact the floor on both ends and can still shoot the three at a good percentage. Kawhi has continued to add to his game and this is the time to show why he is one of the top 5 guys in the NBA. The “sleeper” pick in Nikola Jokic is a guy that is different from all the other I have mentioned. He doesn’t wow you with his athleticism, he is not the best post scorer you’ve ever seen, he is simply good at everything. Jokic is probably the best passer as a big man but he does so much more than that. He is walking triple double on any given night and his play has the Denver Nuggets with the number 1 seed in the Western Conference. Charles Barkley has been pretty high on him and the Nuggets all year, and fans and the NBA have been put on notice.
With the NBA starting to reach that midway point, things are going to heat up and one or two of these guys are going to separate their play from the others. Who will that be? Who will win the MVP? My choice is Giannis. Who’s yours?