Though it’ll be tough for anyone to unseat the player we have had in the top spot for weeks now, one player out West is certainly starting to make things interesting thanks to his borderline unbelievable recent form.
Below, you can check out the Top 15 players in our MVP rankings for 2020-21, as voted on by our entire team at HoopsHype.
Nikola Jokic (Denver)
With most of the talk in the basketball world last night centered around the player coming up at No. 3 in our rankings, Nikola Jokic decided to have his own absolutely absurd performance, exploding for 47 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists on 20-of-31 shooting. That outing from Jokic was enough to secure the Denver Nuggets a 139-137 double-overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies, one that helped Denver maintain their footing as the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed. After the game, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone was asked if that performance was Jokic’s defining MVP moment, to which he replied: https://twitter.com/msinger/status/1384359569745268743 Jokic’s newest teammate, Aaron Gordon, also recently discussed what he thinks about the superstar Serbian big man (via The Athletic):
“He’s a genius, man,” Gordon said of Jokic, who is on track to become just the second player in league history to average at least 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists per game (Oscar Robertson is the other, and he did it just once). “He’s a basketball genius. That’s really what it comes down to. He’s playing it like it’s chess, seeing it three steps ahead.
All very high, and very well-deserved praise for Jokic, who has a strong hold on the top spot of our MVP rankings right now. It’s hard to see anyone overtaking Jokic’s spot in the 2020-21 MVP race at this point, though far stranger things have happened. For the latest Nikola Jokic rumors, click here.
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia)
Since returning full-time from his knee injury scare, Joel Embiid has been on an absolute tear, averaging 30.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over his last seven games, five of which have been wins for the Philadelphia 76ers, an even more impressive feat considering the Sixers are dealing with a noteworthy amount of injuries right now. Embiid’s most impressive performances came back-to-back last week, both on national TV. First came the big man’s 39-point, 13-rebound game on Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets, a contest Philadelphia won by six; Embiid would follow that up by going off for 36 points and 14 rebounds on Friday in a three-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had high praise for Embiid ahead of their game last night, saying: https://twitter.com/melissarohlin/status/1384266630163697674 Nonetheless, Embiid has been performing at a ridiculous level recently, which is why he’s re-earned his spot at No. 2 on these weekly rankings, a place he hasn’t been in a month. For the latest Joel Embiid rumors, click here.
Stephen Curry (Golden State)
It has become absolutely impossible to ignore Stephen Curry’s MVP case over recent weeks, as although the Warriors sit ninth in the West at 29-29, Curry has led his team to wins in five of their last six games while playing at a level reminiscent of his unanimous MVP campaign. Over his last 11 outings, Curry is averaging – wait for it – 40.0 points(!), 6.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists. His shooting percentage splits over that stretch? Absolutely unbelievable 54.1/49.7/90.3 marks, hard to fathom rates considering the average degree of difficulty on Curry’s shot attempts. Curry’s run of form has helped catapult him to first in this season’s scoring title race, overtaking Bradley Beal at 31.4 points per contest. What’s more, in April alone, Curry has had five 40-plus-point performances, putting him just ahead of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan for most 40-point games in a single month by a player at least 33 years old, per ESPN Stats and Info. It’s truly a shame MVP can only go to one player, because with candidates as strong as the Top 3 we’ve currently got, it’s going to be extremely difficult to pick a single player as this season’s most valuable. It’ll probably still be Jokic, but Embiid and Curry are making things very exciting at the top of this year’s MVP race. For the latest Stephen Curry rumors, click here.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s spot in these rankings has taken a slight tumble recently due to the fact he recently missed six games and because since returning, the Milwaukee Bucks have lost two of their three outings. Still, we have Antetokounmpo fourth in the MVP race with a month to go, as his numbers on the season – 28.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks – are still absurd. Plus, despite inconsistent results this season, Antetokounmpo’s Bucks are still fourth overall league-wide in net rating (+6.1) and third in the East with a 35-22 record. Milwaukee and Antetokounmpo haven’t been quite as spectacular as they have been in recent seasons, but there’s no doubt that they’re still a contender and he’s still an MVP-level player, just maybe not the deserving winner for this season. For the latest Giannis Antetokounmpo rumors, click here.
Damian Lillard (Portland)
Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has missed two games in a row, and is set to miss a third in a row tonight, due to a hamstring issue, which could partly explain the recent rut his form has been in. In his prior six games before missing time, Lillard was averaging just 19.5 points and 6.8 assists while shooting a paltry 39.5 percent from the floor, numbers completely unbecoming for the caliber of player he has proven to be. Still, Lillard’s overall averages this season have been outstanding, and that he’s been able to keep Portland in the playoff picture all year long despite how many injuries they’ve had to endure also gives his MVP case solid footing, despite recent poor form. For the latest Damian Lillard rumors, click here.
James Harden (Brooklyn)
Another player who has seemingly fallen out of the running for a Top 3 finish in MVP this year due to injury, James Harden has sat out the Nets’ last six games, not seeing action since April 5 with a hamstring issue of his own. Regardless, Harden is already traveling with the club again and Steve Nash recently said he’s inching closer to a return, so it shouldn’t be too long until we see the bearded superstar suit up again for Brooklyn. For the latest James Harden rumors, click here.
Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers)
Injuries have been a common theme throughout the 2020-21 NBA season, and even the MVP race has been affected, as Kawhi Leonard only just returned on Sunday after missing four games in a row due to a foot injury. In his first game back from the ailment, Leonard was quiet by his own standards, scoring 15 points on 11 shot attempts, to go along with 11 rebounds and eight assists in what was a lopsided Clippers win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Leonard only had to play just over 22 minutes that night due to the one-sided nature of the contest, so it’ll be interesting to see how his playing time ramps up this week with the foot injury behind him. For the latest Kawhi Leonard rumors, click here.
Luka Doncic (Dallas)
The up-and-down campaign has continued for the Dallas Mavericks recently, as the Texan franchise has dropped five of their last seven games, a run that could be even uglier had Luka Doncic not hit a spectacular game-winner last Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies. https://twitter.com/espn/status/1382543215228686337 After the game, Doncic had the following to say about the unbelievable game-winner (via ESPN):
But Doncic saw it swish, his momentum taking him into the lane as the ball splashed through the net, giving the Dallas Mavericks a stunningly improbable 114-113 win Wednesday at FedExForum in Memphis. “I was really surprised when it went in,” said Doncic, who celebrated the winner he called “kind of lucky” by calmly walking to the baseline before raising his hands in triumph and being mobbed by his Mavericks teammates. “Those are the best feelings ever.”
After that contest, however, Dallas lost their following two games, and Doncic said it’s on him to help the Mavericks get out of this current slump, the exact type of mindset you want to see from a team’s leader and a potential future MVP, but now, the Slovenian superstar has to back it up. We’ll see if he can. For the latest Luka Doncic rumors, click here.
LeBron James (LA Lakers)
The latest reports indicate that LeBron James remains ‘weeks away’ from returning from the ankle injury he suffered one month ago today, which can only be seen as concerning for the Los Angeles Lakers considering the playoffs begin in just over a month. Nevertheless, depending on what ‘weeks’ means, if it’s closer to two or three weeks, that’ll give James some regular-season action to round back into form ahead of the playoffs. If it’s more like four or five weeks, however, things could get dicey for Los Angeles. For the latest LeBron James rumors, click here.
Chris Paul (Phoenix)
Future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul made history recently, passing Magic Johnson for fifth on the NBA’s all-time assists list with 10,145 career helpers. Statistics aside, Paul has been one of the best floor generals yet again this campaign, and his addition has been instrumental in helping the Phoenix Suns make the leap from non-playoff team last year to one of the three best teams in the league this season, per net rating (+6.6). That, in a nut shell, is why we have Paul where we have him in these MVP rankings, and why we have him ahead of his star backcourt mate Devin Booker. On the year, Paul ranks 10th league-wide in Win Shares (7.2) and fifth in assists (8.8). For the latest Chris Paul rumors, click here.
Rudy Gobert (Utah)
Star big man Rudy Gobert has been the most impactful player on the league’s best team by net rating this season, which is the basis for his MVP case, along with the fact that he’s the current favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, which would be his third time taking home the award. Gobert ranks second this season in rebounds (13.5) and in blocks (2.8). For the latest Rudy Gobert rumors, click here.
Zion Williamson (New Orleans)
Zion Williamson recently made waves by saying that he loves playing in New York, though not enough is being made about the fact that he said it’s his favorite place to play… aside from New Orleans. Hopefully, this doesn’t lead to years of speculation about Williamson’s future, considering he’s still a huge way away from being an unrestricted free agent. Just enjoy the young phenom, who’s averaging 30.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists over his last 11 games, for what he’s doing now. For the latest Zion Williamson rumors, click here.
Devin Booker (Phoenix)
Devin Booker’s Suns, winners in five of their last six, are now just 1.5 games behind the Jazz for the best record in the league this season and have already clinched a spot in the play-in tournament at worst. It’s crazy how improved the team is in 2020-21 considering where they’ve been for the last decade. Booker’s 25/4/4 stat line this season is a huge reason for that. For the latest Devin Booker rumors, click here.
Julius Randle (New York)
Reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week and the new favorite for Most Improved Player this season, Julius Randle is on a fantastic run right now, averaging 33.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.6 steals over his last five games, all wins for the New York Knicks, who have actually won six in a row to this point. For the latest Julius Randle rumors, click here.
Trae Young (Atlanta)
Now surrounded by a very talented team, Trae Young no longer has to do it all himself for the Atlanta Hawks on a nightly basis for the team to have a chance. Even so, over his last five games, the star point guard is putting up great numbers at 27.0 points and 10.4 assists per contest. Meanwhile, his Hawks sit fourth in the East with a 31-26 record. All in all, Young and Atlanta are enjoying a great third campaign together. For the latest Trae Young rumors, click here.