It’s almost here. The NBA season tips off in two weeks. Plenty of teams shook things up, some got better and some got worse, but the elite players are expected to continue in their ways. Take a look at the preseason NBA MVP top five power rankings.
Preseason NBA MVP Top Five Rankings
The Beast in the Northeast
Right off the bat at five is Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. Embiid has been a dominant force on both sides of the floor for years now, and although he sometimes struggles with injury, he’s mostly overcome that.
Last season Embiid averaged 28.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. He also had impressive shooting splits for a center lining up at roughly 51/38/86.
The bottom line with Embiid is that the consensus agrees he’ll put up otherworldly numbers once again. His MVP campaign, however, will be shaped around Ben Simmons. His ordeal with the 76ers is as public as one can get, but his future is yet to be determined. Embiid will have to play with this shadow lingering around Philadelphia and/or adapt to a new team should Simmons be featured.
One thing will remain true – Embiid will be the best player in Philadelphia and one of the best in the Eastern Conference. If he can continue to keep the team amongst the top in the league, he’ll have a solid road at the award.
A Potential Repeat NBA MVP
Checking in at four is Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. The big man won the NBA MVP award last season, and will surely be looking for a repeat. A quick look into his stats easily shows why he won the award.
Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. A center nearly averaging a triple-double is simply incredible. His shooting split was actually more impressive than Embiid’s too, lining up at roughly 57/39/87.
Like Embiid, Jokic will be dealing with an issue on his team. Jamal Murray will miss a large bulk of this coming season due to injury, making Jokic the de-facto primary scorer and facilitator. Reading that again, and knowing that Jokic is a center, shows the ridiculousness of his game.
With Jokic’s elite talent, it’s very likely he’ll put up similar numbers or possibly even better. The Western Conference is extremely deep and loaded with stars, however, so to be in the running for the NBA MVP award, Jokic will have to keep Denver in the thick of things come playoff time.
A Former MVP and Reigning Champion
Of course, this list isn’t complete with Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s already won this award twice, and just finished a historic season with the Milwaukee Bucks where he won the NBA Championship and Finals MVP award.
The Bucks will be monitored under a microscope all season long due to their title as reigning champions. Sure, there will be pressure, but there’s no indication that pressure affects Antetokounmpo. If anything, it makes him even better.
Last season he averaged 28.1 points, 11 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. He’s unstoppable when driving to the rim and plays extraordinary defense. At times in the playoffs, however, he struggled from deep and from the free-throw line. During the Finals, he seemed to put these issues to rest.
If he can improve on these two aspects, he’ll truly be unstoppable and likely the top player in the league.
The Bucks are deep, however, and have other stars such as Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. This is great for the team, but sharing the ball may cost Antetokounmpo the MVP award. This, of course, is not his concern.
A New Perennial Contender for the NBA MVP Award
Checking in at two is Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks? Doncic can seemingly do it all, which is why his nickname of “Luka Magic” is well deserved.
Last season Doncic averaged 27.7 points, 8 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. He’s technically a point guard, which makes the rebounding numbers look gaudy, but he’s also 6’7″.
Watching one Mavericks game shows just how good Doncic is. Step-back threes, circus shots, no-look passes, triple-doubles by the third-quarter, and the list goes on. In Mavericks’ playoff games, where Doncic seemingly has to do just about everything, the numbers look even better.
He’s definitely not the best defender on this list, but that isn’t focused on as much for this award. Doncic needs to become more consistent from three and improve from the free-throw line, then he may be the front-runner.
Dallas is also a very solid team, although not the best right now. They’ll make the playoffs barring any major injury, but Doncic will likely need to carry them to home-court advantage in the West to win the NBA MVP award.
He’s Back and He’s Healthy
Kevin Durant, the favorite for the award, was welcomed back to the league with open arms last season. He played admirably, averaging 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. To no surprise, his shooting remained impeccable, but up a split of 54/45/88. After a strong season, but a playoff disappointment, Durant went on to star for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics. He was unstoppable and led the USA to basketball gold.
Durant will be sharing the ball (if the Brooklyn Nets can stay healthy) with two other superstars in Kyrie Irving and James Harden. With that being said, he remains the most talented player of the trio. Brooklyn will enter the season as the championship favorites and should have a great regular season. If Durant continues to pour in the points and the Nets finish with the top record in the league, then this award is likely his to lose.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images