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MVP Ladder Before The All-Star Break

~Luke Waldeck    

The all-star break and halfway point of the NBA season starts this weekend. Many players are off to great starts of the season and it’s a tight MVP race.  Here is my MVP ladder:

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1. Joel Embiid - Joel Embiid is an extremely talented 7’0” center for the Philadelphia 76ers who has had injury problems in the past, but he has been healthy this whole season and is off to a great start. Halfway through the season, Embiid is averaging 30.2 points per game, 11.6 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game, and 1.4 blocks per game. Embiid’s stats don’t lie and he is an obvious MVP candidate. Not only does Embiid have great stats, but his team is first in the east. The 76ers are 24-12 and have the best record in the eastern conference. Embiid has great stats, his team is first in the east, and if the season ended right now,  he would be the MVP.

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2. Nikola Jokic - Jokic, like Embiid, is also a center but has a very different play style.  Jokic is less of a post-up player and a much better passer. As of now, Jokic is averaging 27.3 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, and 8.6 assists per game. Jokic is super close to averaging a triple-double which is crazy for a center. His stats are amazing and are possibly better than Embiid’s, but his team is only okay. The Nuggets are 20-15 and 7th in the west. Jokic has ridiculous stats for a center, but his team isn’t quite good enough for him to win MVP.

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3. James Harden - James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets a few games into the season and is now on an NBA championship-caliber team having an MVP caliber season. Harden is averaging 25.5 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game 11.4 assists per game, and 1.3 steals per game. He’s almost averaging a triple-double and he seems to be getting more and more comfortable in Brooklyn winning back-to-back player of the week awards for the east. James Harden has the stats to be an MVP candidate, and his team is only a half-game back of first place in the eastern conference. If the Nets stay as a championship-caliber team and James Harden keeps playing the way he is, he is a name to keep in mind for MVP.

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4. Damian Lillard - For the past couple of years Dame has had consistently great seasons, and this season is no different. Dame is playing at an MVP caliber level averaging 29.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds game, and 8 assists per game. Dame is having a great season, but in order for him to win MVP, his team would have to get a little bit better. The Trail Blazers have a solid record of 20-14  and are 5th in the west, but in order for Dame to win MVP, the Blazers would have to have a great second half of the season and finish top 3 in the west.

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5. Steph Curry - Steph missed a lot of time last year with an injury, but he is fully healthy this season and he is tearing it up. Steph is averaging 29.7 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 6.3 assists. Steph is playing at a super high level,  it but his team is not. The Warriors are barely above 500 with a record of 19-17 and are currently 9th in the west. In order for Steph to win MVP, he would have to increase his assists so he could compete with someone like Embiid who is avenging 30 and 10, and his team would have to play much better in the second half of the season.

    The NBA season far from over, so this list is likely to change in the second half of the season. Big-name players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo could play very well in the second half of the season and work their way onto this list, so we will just have to wait and see who wins MVP.

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