The NBA MVP race has been flipped on its head as teams approach the final third of the shortened season.
Just three weeks ago, Joel Embiid and LeBron James sat atop NBA MVP Rankings. Now, they’re still sidelined with injuries; Embiid hasn’t played suffering a knee injury on March 12, and James hasn’t played since suffering a high ankle sprain on March 20. While NBA Championship odds haven’t dramatically shifted with their respective absences, the NBA MVP race looks much different in mid-April than it did in mid-March.
With Embiid and James out, who’s climbing in the NBA MVP Rankings?
Despite several small injuries, Damian Lillard is playing arguably the best basketball of his career and is chasing his first MVP Award. He didn’t score more than 22 points in four straight games over the final week of March but closed the month with 33 points and 10 assists in a win over the Detroit Pistons.
Elsewhere, James Harden’s climb continues, though it seems unlikely the media will vote for him barring a dominating final third of the season, Chris Paul remains in the top 10, and Steph Curry is still within striking distance.
NBA MVP Rankings (updated April 2):
In winning 2019-20 NBA MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo became the 12th player to win back-to-back MVPs and the 14th player to win multiple MVPs. Those 14 players account for nearly 70 percent of all MVPs since the award’s inception in 1955-56.
Bob Petit became the first repeat winner (1955-56 and 1958-59) while Bill Russell became the first back-to-back winner when he won three straight from 1960-63. And if Antetokounmpo can fend off LeBron James, Joel Embiid, and others in 2020-21, he’d join Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird and the only players with three straight MVPs. Michael Jordan didn’t do it, nor did Magic Johnson, or Kareen Abdul-Jabbar. LeBron James has twice had the opportunity but failed to claim a third straight in both cases (2010-11 and 2013-14).
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