Community Shootaround: Early Check-In On MVP Race

It’ a little too early in the 2020/21 NBA season to pencil in a frontrunner for this year’s Most Valuable Player award. However, we’re over a month removed from opening night, and this condensed season will be about a month shorter than a typical NBA campaign, so it’s not too early to check in on which players are establishing themselves as 2021 MVP candidates.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype did just that this week, polling 15 media members who voted on last season’s NBA awards about their first-month MVP picks. The top choice was Nets star Kevin Durant, who missed all of last season with an Achilles tear but has been extremely impressive in his comeback so far, averaging 31.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 5.8 APG with a scorching .538/.475/.865 shooting line in 13 games (36.2 MPG) for Brooklyn.

Durant will certainly be in the conversation if he maintains those numbers, though there are a couple red flags on his candidacy worth watching. One is KD’s health — he has been limited to 13 of Brooklyn’s 18 games so far as the team exercises caution with him, particularly in back-to-back sets.

Durant also shares the court with two other superstars, so if the Nets finish with a similar record to other contenders, voters will have to decide whether to vote for him over other stars who probably didn’t spend the season playing alongside a former MVP like James Harden and a six-time All-Star like Kyrie Irving.

Lakers star LeBron James, last year’s runner-up, received the second-highest vote share in Scotto’s poll, coming off an impressive Thursday win over the Bucks and last season’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. As Bill Oram of The Athletic wrote this week, James downplayed the idea that 2020’s voting results played any part in his impressive 34-point showing against Giannis, but the performance nonetheless served as a reminder that – even at age 36 – LeBron is a legitimate MVP candidate each and every year.

Third place on Scotto’s list belongs to Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, a two-time All-NBA selection who is off to his best start ever in 2020/21. His 25.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG, and 9.6 APG would all be career highs by a comfortable margin. Nick Kosmider of The Athletic contends that Jokic also has the power of narrative on his side, since he’s redefining what a player of his size and body type can do on the court.

Still, Jokic’s Nuggets will likely need to move up a few spots in the standings for him to receive serious consideration — even after a three-game winning streak, they still have a modest 9-7 record.

Sixers center Joel Embiid, Clippers forward Paul George, Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Antetokounmpo, and George’s teammate Kawhi Leonard fill out Scotto’s top 10.

We want to get your thoughts. If the season ended today, who would be your MVP pick? Which player do you think is best positioned to win the award this season? Are there any dark-horse candidates further down on Scotto’s list (or missing altogether) that you think will make a push for consideration in the coming months?

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21 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Early Check-In On MVP Race

    • Sillivan

      1 Embiid
      2 Paul George
      3 LeBron

      Win is everything

      LeBron has Davis
      George has Kawhi

    • buttholesurfer69

      1 Embiid – 31 PER on best record in E
      2 Curry/Doncic – Singlehandedly keeping undermanned/s**t teams alive in W
      4 Jokic – Great stats
      5 Randle – Driver behind NYK surprise, falling off quickly tho…

  1. Marty McRae

    Curry will win if Kerr lets him play on ball (Kerr: nope, backscreen city for the goat shooter!)

    Kerr needs to be fired for openly saying he’s not interested in winning. Draymond for player-coach lets go.

        • Walladipo and Wood

          He won’t even be in the MVP discussion. Quit being such a homer.

        • shawn hemp

          1st of all. It was 62. Second of all scoring 62 in 1 game doesn’t make him a mvp. 3rd of all Steph deserves some consideration because how teams play dim and what he still produces

  2. kingsforever 2

    Paul George has the best start from this guy’s. But for the rest on the season is the Greek Freak the favorite

  3. Simmons>Russ

    Embiid Durant Jokic Paul George LeBron
    That’s my top 5

    Embiid will probably get injured tho. Durant stats will decline cause of Irving and Harden. I doubt PG can keep up his level of okay for the whole season. Whereas I think LeBron cause they won the title and had the shortest offseason will only get better as the season continues might climb up the rankings. Getting an MVP at this age would be incredible. Jokic needs to improve his defence

  4. Lil_D_Top_3

    I think LeBron. Embiid is a force of late, but I don’t see him sustaining this pace. Happy to be wrong, he is fun to watch when he’s on. I don’t think warriors will have a good enough record for Curry to get the nod. Also wouldn’t be surprised if he gets injured at some point. Another case where I’d be happy to be wrong.

  5. El Don

    As of now the winner by a country mile, actually a landslide is…
    1) Jokic
    Then far far away is…
    2) Embiid
    3) KD
    4) Beal
    5) Luka
    & then just to fill the top 10 is…
    6) Sabonis
    7) Kyrie
    8) Giannis
    9) Harden
    10) Vucevic

    BTW if KAT had played enough games he would be slotted at #4… so after KD all would drop a spot of course!

    • Statistically, Jokic and Embiid are very close, with the obvious exception of assists. We all know the reason why is that the offense in Denver runs thru Jokic. He has the ball in his hands as much as any PG in the league.

      If MVP was about individual stats, your list is pretty valid.

      But one team is 21-5 and the other is 9-7. Much of the Sixers’ early success is directly attributed to Embiid’s performace.

      Most valuable player is not always the best player.

  6. seth3120

    I could see Harden affecting Durant in a couple ways. He will likely take some shots away from Durant and with Harden on board the Nets may be inclined to be cautious with Durant for even longer than they had originally planned. But then again Irving is often injured so that could nullify that a bit.

  7. Meadowlark

    Looks like the same old debate. Who is the “best” player overall is somewhat easier to determine than who is the most “valuable” player to his team. Andre Dawson was MVP on a last place team. Jerami Grant (Detroit) is the new Dawson.

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