Believe it or not, it’s been one month since we’ve seen a live NBA game. Before the spread of COVID-19, the NBA was in the midst of one of its most competitive years. Last year’s champs were 15-50, and parody was running wild. But along with competition in the standings, the MVP race had begun to heat up big time. Now then, whether or not the NBA returns is something we’re all stuck waiting to find out. But through the last month, talk of the regular season-ending early has been rumored. But just because the season gets canned, doesn’t mean the MVP award should be as well. Here are the NBA MVP rankings if the season ended today.
NBA MVP Rankings If The Season Ended Today
Giannis Antetokounmpo is atop the NBA MVP rankings if the season ended today. In the offseason, I called him the MVP favorite again if he improved his jump shot. How did he answer the call? By taking two more three-point attempts per game than last season, and increasing his percentage from 25.6 to 30.6. He’s made this improvement while still excelling at his old style of play. His rebounding numbers improved again (13.7 per game), as did his ability to get to the foul line more (10 attempts per game). Defensively, the Greek Freak is as stout as they come, leading the NBA in defensive win shares, and owning one of the league’s best defensive ratings. Without him, the Milwaukee Bucks would still be a playoff team. But without him, they’d be a first-round exit. That’s value folks, and that’s why he’s the winner in my book.
2. LeBron James
Is LeBron James a small forward still? Or does he qualify as a point guard now? Truthfully, I have no clue, but in an era of positionless basketball, James is still the king. In his first season playing point guard, James is leading the NBA in assists per game with a whopping 10.6. In the NBA’s Real Plus-Minus category, James only trails the man we listed ahead of him. For anyone who isn’t aware of what that means, Real Plus-Minus is a player’s estimated on-court impact on team performance. Meaning it’s one of the most valuable stats in an MVP race. Along with leading the league in assists, James is still capable of dominating the scoring department of games too, still putting up 25.7 a night. In fact, after the all-star break, James was putting up 30 a game.
In a super-loaded conference, James has led his team to first place and a 49-14 record. Unfortunately for him, Antetokounmpo has been a step ahead all season, and that’s why James comes in second.
3. James Harden
Truthfully, James Harden will go down as one of the most under-appreciated superstars of all time. Harden does have one MVP award in 2018 to his name, but it feels like he should have more. This season was another superb season for Harden, as he started the season white-hot. Over the first three months of the season, Harden’s points per game for each month were 36.8, 39.5, and 37.3 respectively. Those are some of the best scoring numbers we’ve seen in NBA history. Harden is contributing in other areas of the game as well, including putting up an impressive 1.6 steals per game. His player efficiency rating also happens to be second in the league. Unfortunately, the season had to be suspended because with Russell Westbrook tearing it up after the all-star break, the Houston Rockets had a legit chance at a title.
4. Luka Doncic
Although Brandon Ingram or Bam Adebayo is likely to win the most improved player award, it’s hard not to want to throw Luka Doncic in the conversation. Sure, he was already a star in the making last year. But this year, Doncic has taken the Dallas Mavericks to another level. In large part thanks to Doncic, the Mavericks lead the league in three-pointers-made and are third in points per game. Also, before the season ended the Mavericks were within three games of being the fourth seed. More than anything, Doncic’s numbers just shout MVP candidate. 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists are numbers people like James have put up for the last fifteen years. Compared to his rookie season, he has taken a massive leap already. At only 21 years of age, Doncic figures to be in the MVP race for most of his career.
If it weren’t for missing 13 games, Kawhi Leonard could be higher on this list. Leonard has led the Los Angeles Clippers to the two seed in the west and is undoubtedly the biggest reason why. In a year where Paul George has been inconsistent, Leonard has remained a top-five player. In 51 games, Leonard was averaging more points, rebounds, and assists than ever in his career. Shooting 88.9 percent from the charity stripe is no small thing either. In terms of defensive win shares, Leonard is still an elite player in that category as well. Without the all-star game MVP, the Clippers are 6-7, compared to 38-13 with. In an MVP race, a stat like that makes a lot of difference.
Just Outside The NBA MVP Rankings If The Season Ended Today
7. Nikola Jokic
Lets Hope We Can Crown A True MVP
Despite the tragic events caused by COVID-19, NBA fans are still holding onto hope the season can resume at some point. And for the sake of the MVP race, the season resuming is the best thing that could happen. Although there would only be between 15-19 games left in the season for teams, it would still be enough games that anything could happen. Until we know for sure what the future holds, stay safe and optimistic everyone.
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