Now that it’s been a few weeks and a lot has changed in the NBA it’s time to update my MVP predictions. Last time featured Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant (Check it out here). But, with Davis and Curry dealing with injuries and KD not playing at an MVP level it’s time to look at new candidates. As a side note, the argument with Draymond Green definitely won’t help Durant’s case for MVP. Anyways, here are my 3 updated MVP predictions:
Kemba Walker – 28.7 PPG (46/38/86), 4.5 RPG, 6.1 APG
Coming off of a 60 point game Kemba Walker has every right to be in the MVP conversation. Despite the loss, Walker outscored his entire team by himself. That’s right. Kemba scored 60 while the rest of his team combined only scored 59 points. Despite his pitiful starting cast, which I have proposed trades to improve, Walker’s Hornets are the 8th seed in the East. If he is able to carry them to the playoffs, even as a low seed, Walker should definitely be considered for MVP.
Looking deeper into his stats it’s easy to see just how valuable he is. Kemba is averaging the second highest points per game this season and is responsible for 25% of the Hornets point per game. One player being responsible for that much of a team’s scoring is unheard of. Not even LeBron James did that on the Cavs last year. What makes it even more impressive is that he’s doing all of that with a 54.8 eFG%, making him one of the most efficient volume scorers in the league. Of course, with Charlotte being a small market team it’s unlikely Kemba gets the recognition he deserves. Nevertheless, going off of stats and value, not popularity or market, Kemba is a worthy candidate.
Joel Embiid – 27.7 PPG (46/33/81), 12.9 RPG, 3.8 APG
Although his performance was overshadowed by Kemba’s huge night, Embiid dropped 33 points and 11 rebounds. A big performance like this was nothing new for Embiid. He has had ten 30-point games already this season. Right now, Embiid leads the league in points scored and is 4th in points per game. He has been responsible for carrying the teams offensive load as his second-leading scorer before the Jimmy Butler trade was J.J. Redick. Also, with Ben Simmons not having quite the same impact as he did last year Embiid was responsible for a lot. In addition to his scoring, Embiid has been an elite defender.
A candidate for DPOY last season, Embiid has continued to be one of the best defenders in the NBA. Currently, Embiid is 5th in blocked shots at 2.2 per game and has anchored the 76ers top 10 defense. Not only does he protect the paint, but has been surprisingly good at defending the perimeter for a guy his size. His versatility and mobility on defense have made him one of the best two-way players in the NBA. That two-way ability is what should propel him into the MVP conversation this year.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 25.6 PPG (56/13/68), 12.7 RPG, 5.5 APG
This season the Bucks shocked the league with a perfect 7-0 start. They have lost a few games since then, but are still the second seed in the East. The biggest reason for their early success is Giannis. This year Giannis is #9 in PPG, #6 in RPG, and #18 in BPG. His ability to do everything on the court has made Milwaukee one of the best teams in the league. Giannis is averaging 2.7 more rebounds than last season, allowing him to push the pace. The Bucks are currently 5th in pace compared to their 20th ranked pace last season. Individually, Antetokounmpo ranks 4th with 4.66 fastbreak points per game. More importantly than pace is the ripple effect of rebounding on the team. After ranking dead last in rebounds per game the previous season, the Bucks are grabbing 29% more rebounds and rank 6th. While Giannis isn’t completely responsible for this it is still an interesting stat.
What Giannis has been responsible for is his defensive improvement. He is one of the few players to average over one steal and one block per game (1.3 SPG and 1.5 BPG). His length and ability to do it all has bolstered the Bucks 4th ranked defense. He is easily the teams best two-way player. Similar to Embiid, it’s this elite two-way ability that makes him one of my favorite early predictions to win MVP.
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