Top 5 MVP Candidates heading into the All-Star Break

March 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) controls the ball against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the all-star break, I decided to rank the top 5 MVP candidates in the NBA. The MVP award is basically a popularity contest, as it doesn’t look at the value a player brings to their respective team. That being said, let’s take a look at the honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

My honorable mentions include Stephen Curry, Luka Don?i?, and James Harden. They are all elite players who are playing at a high level; however, team success and teammates matter.

Feb 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) in action during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Curry’s and Don?i?’s respective teams are not doing so well as the Warriors and Mavericks are 8th and 9th seed. The Nets are loaded with too much star power to put Harden in the top 5.

5. Kawhi Leonard

After losing to the Nuggets in embarrassing fashion, Kawhi Leonard is nonetheless having his best season shooting efficiency-wise, aside from 2013. He is averaging 26.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists on 51.1 FG%. He led the Clippers to the 4th seed in the West.

Feb 23, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles the ball up court during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard’s impact stats are magnificent for a player who missed 8 games. Kawhi is 7th in Wins Above Replacement and 10th in Value over Replacement Player.

4. Nikola Joki?

Nikola Joki? took his game to another level this season. Joki? is averaging 27.1 points, 11 rebounds, and 8.6 assists on 56.7 FG%, and he’s shooting 41.8% from 3. He is currently one of the league-favorites to win MVP. Although he is having an elite season, I don’t have him in my top 3 since the Nuggets are currently 6th in the west.

Mar 2, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) brings the ball up the court against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Joki? has the best impact stats in the entire NBA. He is 1st in Wins Above Replacement and 1st in Value over Replacement Player. It is honestly shocking how elite Joki? is, considering that he is starting to enter his prime at 26.

3. Lebron James

In his 18th season, Lebron James is once again apart of the MVP conversation. He is averaging 25.8 points, 8 rebounds, and 7.8 assists on 50.9 FG% while being top 10 in total minutes played.

Feb 24, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) brings the ball up the court against the Utah Jazz during the first quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Lebron James’s impact stats are elite, as he is top 3 in both Wins Above Replacement and Value over Replacement Player.

With the injuries of Anthony Davis and Dennis Schr�der, Lebron James had to step up his game to keep the Lakers in a contending spot. The Lakers suffered a huge blow by losing their starting point guard and power forward. In the past 8 games, Lebron James is averaging 27 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.1 assists on 54.6 FG%.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is having another MVP caliber season, similar to the one he had last year. The Greek Freak is 5th in the NBA, scoring 29.0 points while being the most efficient scorer out of the top 5. Giannis is top 5 in the league for rebounds with 11.7 rebounds per game.

Feb 28, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) gestures before the start of the game against the LA Clippers at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Antetokounmpo’s impact stats are excellent, as he is 6th in Wins Above Replacement and 2nd in Value over Replacement player.

The two-time reigning MVP was recently named Eastern player of the week after averaging 37 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.3 blocks in week 10.

1. Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid is having a spectacular season, as he is averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists on a career-high 52.1 FG% and 41.6% from 3. With the huge leap he took offensively, he led the 76ers to the first seed in the East. It is safe to say that Joel Embiid has truly trusted the process.

Jan 12, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) in action against the Miami Heat during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Embiid’s impact stats are exceptional, as he is 2nd in the league in Wins Above Replacement and 6th in Value over Replacement Player.

Embiid has been on fire as of late, as he scored 40+ points twice in his last three games while averaging 13+ rebounds.

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