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Roundtable: who will be the NBA’s Most Valuable Player?

MVP MVP MVP

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Who is your MVP pick and why?

Matt: Joel Embiid - he was really the only one in the running to challenge Jokic last season before Joel ended up getting injured. Injuries have been a problem throughout Embiid’s career, so to bank on him having a fully healthy season at the MVP level he was playing at prior is not a guarantee, but he’s got a good a shot at it as anyone else.

Guys like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and James Harden who have the skills to make a run at it seem firmly in the “saving it for the play offs” mode at this point in their careers and based on the makeup of their teams. Those dudes don’t have the room or inclination to be “that guy” every night through the season like they will in a 7 game series. Heck Even Antetokounmpo has won it all now, so who knows how much stock he’ll put in earning another regular season MVP. Embiid and Jokic are two guys who are going to have to be at 100% all season for their teams to have a chance, and simply based on my perceived hesitance among decision makers to make Jokic a back-to-back MVP, I’ll wager on Embiid earning it this season.

Matthew: Luka Doncic! My head says Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I certainly wouldn’t bet against him winning his third MVP in four years based on his combination of statistical dominance, DPOY level defense and expected team success. But voters get fatigued and I think Luka is going to have a monster year.

The Mavericks’ failure to obtain a secondary ball handler may be an Achilles heel in the playoffs, but it ensures that Luka will maintain an absurd usage rate during the regular season. That usage coupled with improved shooting around him, better conditioning entering the season, and continued shooting improvement should lead to the best season of his career. 30/10/9 on good efficiency is not out of the question. Given those numbers and a team that should be in the hunt for home court advantage in the first round and Luka will hoist the first of multiple MVP awards.

Xavier: Giannis - Before winning the championship, I would have wagered that Giannis would never win another MVP regardless of his numbers. Voters hate the optics of choosing someone as MVP only to see that player be unceremoniously eliminated from the playoffs. It bit them with Dirk and most recently with Giannis. After leading his team to a title, the narrative around him has changed and many view him as the best player in the league. Simply put, Giannis is cool again. Luka is seen by many as the odds on favorite but team success, or lack there of, may ultimately force voters to look elsewhere. No one wants to vote for an MVP that is unlikely to make it out of the first round.

David: As much as I want Luka Doncic to win MVP, I think he is going to fall short to Steph Curry. Curry led the league in scoring (32 PPG) last season on a team that was historically bad when he wasn’t on the floor and, by the grace of James Naismith himself, led the Warriors to a play-in berth. With backcourt mate Klay Thompson coming back and a two year playoff drought lingering, I expect the baby-faced assassin to win his third MVP. Not only that, I expect him to lead the league in scoring again. I have Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid rounding out the top three MVP finalists, in that order.

Ben: I really wanted to be a contrarian and go a different direction. Something surprising, like Kevin Durant or Damian Lillard. But I truly believe the Mavericks are going to go after the number one seed in the West, and even if they fall short, they’ll end up with a top three seed. And to do that, Luka Doncic will have to put up some incredible numbers. It’ll be a great narrative—the young phenom finally pushing his team to the top. And voters love a great narrative. Put your money on Doncic becoming only the second MVP in Mavericks’ history.

Tim: My pick is Kevin Durant. The MVP award has more often than not gone to the best player on the best team… and that to me for this ‘21-‘22 season would be Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. Health got in the way of their success last season, but all signs point to Brooklyn being one of the top contenders in the NBA.

According to NBA.com KD comes in with the second best odds of winning MVP behind our boy Luka Doncic. I just don’t think the Mavericks will be one of the top 3 seeds in the West (at this very moment) which makes me think voters will look in a different direction.

Kirk: It’s going to be someone who plays a lot and for a team who wins a ton without as much help as other candidates. That knocks out anyone on the Nets or Lakers. I also think Jokic won’t win again because he won’t fight for the narrative even though he’s a top tier player.

That leaves Luka Doncic, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and to a degree Giannis. If Luka takes any sort of step to play more consistently night to night, it is an easy pick but I just dont know if he’s there yet. I really like Steph Curry as a pick. This might be his last best chance to go nuts as Klay Thompson works his way back from injury. So Steph, followed by Luka, then Giannis.