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NBA MVP Race Heats Up with Embiid’s Ineligibility

Given the new rule that makes Joel Embiid ineligible for a second straight MVP award (because he’s missing too many games), there could be a wide-open race for that honor in the NBA this season.

Posted at 4:59 p.m.

Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

In 2005-06, Canadian Steve Nash was the winner with 46% of the first place votes. This is the last time someone achieved the distinction without receiving more than half of the top-ranked ballots.

This year several names are in the discussions, at the dawn of the final stretch of the season.

“There’s a lot of guys (who deserve it),” said Jaylen Brown of the Celtics. Find out what the real criteria are. We’ll see, I guess. »

Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic could be honored for the third time in four years.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks could win the title for a third time.

PHOTO AARON GASH, ARCHIVES ASSOCIATED PRESS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Ontario’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder finished fifth last season; he should do even better this year.

Luka Doncic of the Mavericks will surely have plenty of first-place votes.

PHOTO TONY GUTIERREZ, ARCHIVES ASSOCIATED PRESS

Luka Doncic

And if the Clippers continue to play very well, don’t be surprised if we add Kawhi Leonard’s name into the hat.

“We definitely need to talk about Kawhi (on this subject), said teammate Paul George. But there are a lot of guys. Shai, Luka, Jokic. In the East too, many are doing fantastic work. »

Brown thinks teammate Jayson Tatum should be at the top of his list. Tatum is the team’s best player with the best record in the league. He averages 27 points, nearly nine rebounds and nearly five assists per game.

A player has finished a season with these averages 26 times over the years; of these, nine were named the Most Valuable Player.

This season, at least two other players — Doncic and Antetokoumpo — are averaging as many points, rebounds and assists.

Part of the challenge: There are no absolute scales for achieving the honor.

For some, the key element is “best player”. For others, it is “of the greatest use to his team”. Based on this benchmark, it might be time to turn to Donovan Mitchell of the Cavaliers.

Second in the East, the Cleveland club dominates the NBA with a 23-5 record since mid-December. Mitchell averaged 28.4 points, 6.3 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals — all career highs.

“I’m not the type to go and plead my case,” Mitchell said. I let my actions speak. (The votes) are not my responsibility. I’m just going to keep playing like I’m doing. »

The Thunder haven’t won a playoff series since 2016.

However, the team is second in the West — largely thanks to Gilgeous-Alexander, who averages 31.1 points, 6.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.

The only one to have concluded a season with all these averages: Michael Jordan, in 1988-89, but he did not obtain the title of most valuable player that season. Go figure.

“Shai is in a better position than people think,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. It’s really very special what he accomplishes. »

Gilgeous-Alexander just wants to continue to stay away from that kind of distraction.

“It’s easy to get caught up in things like that,” said the Hamilton athlete. I found success by telling myself that it wasn’t going to confuse me or control me. »

OKC will play again Thursday evening at home, against the Clippers (8 p.m., Sportsnet +).

A third of the season to go

The league is exactly two-thirds of the way through the season, with 820 of 1,230 games played.

Some teams with championship pedigrees, like Golden State and the Lakers, hope to keep their momentum going.

The Warriors have won eight times in their last 10 games, the Lakers seven times.

The Bucks are experiencing the opposite, having only three victories in 10 games.

Leaders of the East, the Celtics are heading towards a 10th appearance in a row in the playoffs. This would extend the longest streak of its kind in the circuit at the moment.

The Suns will finish the season with 10 straight games against teams that will most likely be in the playoffs.

“We respect every team,” Kevin Durant said. It’s just about refining our habits, getting better and moving forward. This type of opponent is an excellent test for the playoffs. »

2024-02-21 22:01:07
#NBA #Valuable #Player #race #contenders

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