Nuggets Nikola Jokic has emerged as the clear favorite to win the NBA MVP in 2021. Critics claim, however, a more complete player should win the coveted top player prize.
Warriors Steph Curry, 76ers Joel Embiid and Jokic were named finalists for the NBA Most Valuable Player on May 20. The Sports Extra Podcast debated which player most deserves to win this season.
Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
At 32 years old, Curry seems to be getting better with age. In 63 games this season, the PG averaged a career-high 32 points per game making 48.2 percent of his shots. His career three-point percentage is .433 making him one of the most elite shooters in NBA history. Curry is a two-time league MVP.
Curry and the Warriors narrowly missed the playoffs after being bounced by a LeBron James game-winner in the play-in game. While this year’s performance is arguably his best season, it was also unique in that he was tasked with carrying much of the load with Klay Thompson injured.
“Yeah, I do [feel deserving of the MVP],” Curry said to ESPN. “But even if you don’t win it, being in the conversation, top five — those type of acknowledgments show what you’re about, no matter what the situation is, year to year.”
“That, in and of itself, is the reward, because we all know how hard it is to actually have everything go right for a season that you actually win it.”
“We have a certain style and expectation around here that when we don’t meet it, it does become frustrating,” Curry said. “We’re learning on the fly about how to rebuild.”
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
In 51 games played, Embiid averaged 28.5 points per game, making 51.3 percent of his shots. The Sixers big man averaged 10.6 rebounds per game with 1.35 blocks per game. His made field goal percentage was the best of his five seasons in the league, as was his points per game.
Through the first half of the season, Embiid was considered the front runner for MVP, until a knee injury forced the center to sit for ten-straight games. His absence once again led to doubts about his long-term health and longevity in the league.
This was the first season Embiid had been named a finalist for league MVP.
“It’s well deserved,” said Sixers head coach Doc Rivers of Embiid and Ben Simmons (finalist for Defensive POY). “I think both of them, in my opinion, should win, but the first honor is being nominated, and the second one is them winning it. They both have had fantastic years in those two departments being the MVP of the league and being the Defensive Player of the Year. I’m happy for them because their success means team success.”
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
Jokic has put up one of the greatest offensive performances from a center since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. Jokic led the league in double-doubles (55) and was top-15 in the league in six other categories. He posted 15 triple-doubles, and was seventh in assists per game with 8.7.
He played every game during the regular season and would be the first league MVP since Kobe Bryant in 2007-08 with that distinction.
Allie: Steph Curry
Logan: Nikola Jokic
Tyler: Nikola Jokic
Shiner: Nikola Jokic
2021 Award Finalists
Defensive Player of the Year
Rudy Gobert (14.3 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 2.68 bpg)
Ben Simmons (14.3 ppg, 6.9 apg, 1.6 spg)
Draymond Green (7 ppg, 8.9 apg, 1.67 spg)
Rookie of the Year
LaMelo Ball (15.7 ppg, 6.1 apg, 1.59 spg)
Anthony Edwards (19.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg)
Tyrese Haliburton (13 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.33 spg)
Sixth Man of the Year
Joe Ingles (12.1 ppg, 4.7 apg, .67 spg)
Jordan Clarkson (18.4 ppg, 2.5 apg, .9 spg)
Derrick Rose (14.7 ppg, 4.2 apg, .98 spg)
Most Improved Player
Michael Porter Jr. (19 ppg, 7.3 rpg, .89 bpg)
Julius Randle (24.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 6.0 apg)
Jerami Grant (22.3 ppg, 2.8 apg, .65 spg)
Coach of the Year
Tom Thibodeau (New York Knicks)
Quin Snyder (Utah Jazz)
Monty Williams (Pheonix Suns)
You can catch The Sports Extra Podcast presented by abc27 starting April 22nd. The team drops new episodes every Thursday. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or right here on abc27.com.