Even though the regular season MVP is given at the end of the postseason (for reasons that, to this day, no one understands), it’s never too early to talk about early frontrunners for that award. With that said, I, in collaboration with the entire theBRKDWN team, bring you the first installment of our weekly MVP rankings: the Weekly MVP Ladder.
How it works: Numerous staff members at theBRKDWN will participate in a weekly poll to vote for their top 5 in the MVP race. Each position has a different value, just like in NBA media ballots (First place votes are 10pts, Second place votes are 7pts, Third place votes are 5pts, Fourth place votes are 3pts, Fifth place votes are 1pt). When all the votes are in, I’ll add up the different values to every player mentioned, thus making theBRKDWN’s MVP Ladder. Here’s our list from the start of the season (October 22) to the day of writing this article (November 1):
Fifth Place: Luka Doncic (39pts)
Following a sensational rookie campaign, Luka Doncic has picked up right where he left off last season and has improved his game and his team’s play along with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks are off to a 3-1 start, and Luka himself is averaging 25pts/9reb/7ast/2stl. Due to the great quality of teams the West has to offer, many doubted the Mavs’ ability to make the postseason. And even if it’s too early, a couple of good games at the start of the season could go a long way in the West’s playoff picture. Luka at least has proved his doubters wrong, after winning Rookie of the Year by a wide margin and has flourished as an early MVP candidate.
Fourth Place: Nikola Jokic (49pts)
If last season taught us anything, it’s that these Denver Nuggets are going to be a problem in the West for years to come. With good and underrated young pieces to spare, a top 10 head coach and a superstar big man, Denver could hang with any team in the league. And, at the very least, could be a top four team in the West. Jokic finds himself averaging 15pts/11reb/6ast while struggling from the field (47%FG/21%3P). Nikola Jokic is a superstar, so expect those numbers to certainly go up, and for him to still be a top five MVP candidate as long as the Nuggets keep up this pace.
Third Place: Anthony Davis (66pts)
Before the season began, it was made clear by multiple people inside the Lakers’ organization (including LeBron James himself) that the offense was going to run through Anthony Davis. And boy oh boy, has that paid off nicely: AD is currently averaging 28pts/12reb/3ast/3blk on 43%FG/27%3P/89%FT. AD has struggled finding his groove on the team and with Frank Vogel employing different lineups to get the best out of his players, we should expect more experimentation with the return of Kyle Kuzma and *eventually* Rajon Rondo. However, AD has found success the past three games with increased minutes at center, including becoming the fastest player in NBA history to get a 40 point, 20 rebound game, doing so in 31 minutes of play. With the Lakers expected to be a top seed in the West and AD finally playing meaningful basketball, don’t be surprised if you see him repeatedly on our list for weeks to come.
Runner-up: Joel Embiid (78pts)
The 76ers are the only undefeated team remaining in the NBA with a 4-0 record, at time of writing this. Consequently, the best team needs to have an MVP candidate, and that man is Joel Embiid. Even though he missed one game and has only played 25 minutes per outing in the three he has played, Joel has still been Philly’s best player with averages of 23pts/10reb/3ast/1stl/2blk on 51%FG/36%3P/82%FT. With the 76ers expected to be a top three seed, the only real argument against Joel Embiid winning MVP would be missing games due to injury, which has been his weakness. But when Embiid does play, his numbers are great, his team plays better and opponents at his position tend to struggle. One could argue the missed games are null because of this great impact he has on both sides of the ball when he does play.
MVP: Trae Young (80pts)
Coming out of the University of Oklahoma, Trae Young was viewed by many as the player in his draft with the best case to be a bust: lacked size and strength, his shooting was at times inconsistent, his turnovers were a concern, and he lacked control on occasions. And those doubters were proven right in the first half of last season, but that changed post All-Star break when Trae Young stole some first place votes in the Rookie of the Year discussion from Luka Doncic. This season, Trae has taken it one step further by becoming one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league with averages of 27pts/7ast/5reb/1stl on 51%FG/50%3P/81%FT shooting splits. The Hawks were on a 2-1 record, and things were looking good for those that had the Hawks as a surprise team to make the playoffs. But, Young suffered an ankle injury against the Miami Heat, which sidelined him for the rest of that game and the next, both of which they lost. Atlanta is currently 2-3, they have a couple of rookies who have not yet hit their stride and have a tough upcoming schedule. Translation: don’t expect Trae Young to keep his spot atop theBRKDWN’s first Weekly MVP Ladder.
Honorable Mentions: Karl-Anthony Towns (15pts), Giannis Antetokounmpo (7pts), LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Pascal Siakam
Agree with our picks? Tell us, and let us know your top five in MVP voting via Twitter (@the_BRKDWN)