The NBA MVP Award: Dark horses

If the NBA season were to wrap up today, Giannis Antetokounmpo would be crowned MVP. I don’t think a single hoop head out there would deny that he most certainly deserves it.

The Bucks have won 46 games while only dropping 8, and are perhaps on course for a 70 win season. Giannis himself is averaging 30 points, 13.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Put all of that together with the fact that he’s an NBA all defensive first team calibre player and what do you get? What should be a unanimous MVP.

Lucky for us fans, The NBA season does not wrap up today and there is more to discuss regarding other players who are deserving of a mention.

The usual names will of course be there. LeBron James will most certainly be in the mix along with Los Angeles Lakers running buddy Anthony Davis. Kawhi Leonard will of course be up there for how he’s helped propel the Los Angeles Clippers to new heights. We of course can’t forget about James Harden. Anyone averaging 35 points over the season on a playoff calibre team deserves to at least be in the conversation.

There are players outside of the usual suspects that are having a colossal impact on their teams on court successes.

Pascal Siakam

It seems absurd that Toronto had been written off prior to the season. I imagine its only served to help them, lifting the pressure off of them potentially retaining their crown.

As far as Pascal Siakam is concerned, he’s picked up right where he left off. Although now, he has the pressure of being ‘the man’, a job he’s seemingly relished.

His numbers have improved significantly and he’s managed to lead his team to the second seed in the Eastern Conference standings. Fresh off his first all star appearance (a start too might I add), Spicy P will be full of confidence heading in to the tail end of the season. He will most certainly be a name in the MVP conversation when its all said and done.


Nikola Jokic

How many game winners does this guy have to hit before people truly realise just how great he is? Although he finished third in MVP voting last season, a lot had been said about whether Jokic could maintain that level of play.

He did have a noticeably sluggish start to the campaign and came in carrying a little extra weight which seemed to affect his impact on the game. He was still playing well, just not near to the bar he had set for himself.

Now over 20lbs down and 11 triple doubles later, he’s back to his best. The Denver Nuggets are sat in the second seed out West on the back of the Jokers stellar play. His name should most certainly be in the MVP mix come the end of the season.

Jimmy Butler

Of all the new additions for this season, outside of Los Angeles perhaps, Jimmy Butler’s arrival in Miami seems to have been the most impactful.

It just looks like he’s enjoying the game a lot more than in past seasons, while still maintaining that same ruthless edge that makes him such a great player.

His numbers are up and the Miami Heat are in serious contention to get home court for round 1 of the playoffs. His leadership, drive and ability to make other players around him better land him firmly in this list of MVP dark horses.

Luka Doncic

When we talk Luka, are we discussing the future face of the NBA? There are many who believe that we are. Judging by the way he’s been playing so far this season, it’s clear to see why.

Dallas are in the playoff picture again for the first time since the 2015/16 season and Luka Dončić is the main contributing factor. His personal numbers are other worldly, averaging 28.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists on the season.

Now that Dallas are relevant again, it wouldn’t be right to not include Luka Dončić in the MVP conversation.

Rudy Gobert

Defence wins championships, right? I absolutely had to include Rudy Gobert. Someone who is defensively as talented as he is should be acknowledged.

The Jazz are good. They will cause problems for lots of teams down the road and a huge part of that is the defensive force that is Rudy Gobert. His numbers are great, yes, however outside of that you only have to watch him play to get a feel for how he can affect the game inside. His ability to force players to alter their shot is second to none in the NBA.

You only have to imagine the Jazz without their towering French centre to see how important and valuable he is to their success. Along with being a first time all star, Rudy Gobert should be mentioned in the MVP talks.

Jayson Tatum

He’s only 21! Are we still saying this? Whether or not his age is still the most talked about factor, one thing is for sure. Jayson Tatum is a bona fide NBA stud.

Boston are doing a Boston, hanging around towards the top end of the Eastern Conference. A big part of the reason why is the improved scoring numbers of Jayson Tatum. He seems to have filled that hole left by Kyrie Irving, even with the addition of Kemba Walker.

Another player to receive the nod for their first all star game, Tatum is playing at a level that deserves to be recognised and respected.

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About Benjamin Forster 7 Articles
Passionate and dedicated sports writer based in London, covering the NBA.

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