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Analysis: the NBA MVP Race, as Well as the International Flavor of It

The results are in. The NBA will announce the numerous award winners for this regular season in the following days and weeks. And while no one knows for sure where any of the awards will go, one thing is clear: the MVP will be a foreign player.


Get ready for history because it’s about to happen. Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, or Giannis Antetokounmpo appear to be the frontrunners for MVP this season. Jokic is a Serbian player. Cameroonian Embiid Antetokounmpo is a Greek basketball player with ties to Nigeria. When the winner is announced, it will be the fourth season in a row that the MVP was not born in the United States, which has never happened before.

This hasn’t happened before: If Jokic, Embiid, and Antetokounmpo finish 1-2-3 in the MVP voting, it will be the first time in NBA history that the top three MVP vote-getters are all foreign players.

Jokic is the reigning MVP, and he has made a strong case for himself this season. 27 points, 14 rebounds, and just under eight assists each game are insanely high averages. Nobody has ever ended a season with those numbers, which further adds to Jokic’s case for a back-to-back season.

“I’m quite aware that I’m skewed. “I completely admit that,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “The MVP award isn’t even a contest.” There are other great players, after all. I’m not implying that they aren’t capable players. But what Nikola Jokic has accomplished this year, with this club, and through everything we’ve faced, is extraordinary. Last year, he performed admirably. This year, he’s much better.”

Embiid was the leading scorer, averaging 30.6 points and nearly 12 rebounds per game. When you add Embiid’s four assists per game, he finished with averages that no one has matched since Bob McAdoo in 1975-76.

Doc Rivers, the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, said, “I don’t do a lot of campaigning.” “Joel has done enough campaigning with his performance.”

Antetokounmpo finished the season with 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game for the Milwaukee Bucks, defending their NBA title. The figures are comparable to Antetokounmpo’s MVP season two years ago, right down to his 55.3 percent field goal rate. Nobody has averaged so many points, rebounds, and assists in a single game since Wilt Chamberlain in 1965-66.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer stated, “He sets the tone for everything.”

The NBA’s international flavor isn’t as strong as it once was. It’s not a garnish or a sprinkling. The MVP leaders and Dallas’ Luka Doncic are among those properly carrying the superstar banner into these playoffs, which begin with play-in games Tuesday and then in earnest with first-round games beginning Saturday.

Only Stephen Curry, who finished third last season, could stop the 1-2-3 finish of Jokic, Embiid, and Antetokounmpo in the MVP contest a year ago. Nobody is expected to be able to break up the trio this year. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Jokic is the overwhelming favorite, with just Embiid and Antetokounmpo having a realistic shot. At 100-1, the fourth choice is Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. This season, the majority of the award nominees were not. There’s a good chance that the voting panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL won’t agree on everything. And legitimate arguments can be made, especially when it comes to defensive player of the year and the All-Defensive team, which are perhaps the most subjective of all the categories.

There are several possibilities for Coach of the Year. The Rookie of the Year award became confusing near the end of the season. The All-NBA squad will be a circus, especially considering Embiid and Jokic are both centers, and one of them will either make the first team as a forward or not. In a league that has essentially gone positionless, the NBA insists on selecting an All-NBA team based on position – two guards, two forwards, and one center. That’s a travesty in any case.

The MVP, on the other hand, is clearly the most important.

If the criteria are player who contributes the most to his team, Jokic is almost a lock. The Nuggets made the playoffs despite the absence of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. because their center can do it all and do it better than anybody else.

If the most dominant player is defined as Embiid, the argument turns to him. He couldn’t be defended when he was at his best this season.

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And if the title is defined as the best player, as it appears to have become, Antetokounmpo should win. On offense, he can go to the rim whenever he wants, and he’s back in the conversation for the most outstanding defensive player. The power on both ends cannot be overstated.

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