A quarter of the way into the NBA season, we still have five strong MVP candidates fighting for the Michael Jordan award, playing at all-time levels. There’s a good chance we’re currently witnessing some of the best seasons from some lock-in hall of famers.

You know it’s an especially competitive race when the likes of Jayson Tatum, who is leading the NBA’s best roster, can’t crack the top five.

Although there are many games to go, here are our frontrunners competing for the NBA Most Valuable Player award.

Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Leading the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder is Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. The Philadelphia 76ers’ star centre has been nothing short of spectacular, boasting an impressive stat line of 35.1 points per game, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. 

He is also coming off recent back-to-back standout performances, including a remarkable 51-point game against the Timberwolves.

However, the real key to Embiid’s success has been his overall consistency. Having scored 40 or more in four of his last five games and more than 30 in his last 12 games, his stats are reminiscent of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Not only that, Embiid’s impact on the Sixers’ success is palpable. The team is just better when he is in action, which has led the roster to sit third in the tough Eastern Conference.

If he manages to maintain this high level of play throughout the season, Embiid is poised to take home his second consecutive MVP title, solidifying his name as one of the league’s all-time greats.

Nikola Jokić – Denver Nuggets 

Nikola Jokić is a common name in the MVP race by this point and has managed to climb to second so far this season. The Serbian big man’s season averages of 26.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 9.3 assists are scraping the triple-double area as he puts together yet another all-time great season.

However, Jokić’s impact extends beyond his individual stats – he’s quietly propelled the Nuggets to victory in five of their last six games, demonstrating his leadership and consistency.

Quite simply, the big man continues to be an absolute monster on the offensive side of the ball, killing opponents night in and out. His masterful passing continues to blind defences while his signature ‘Sombor Shuffle’ torches from both mid-range and beyond the arch.

If Jokić sustains this level of performance, he is poised to stay in the thick of the MVP race, challenging for the top spot as the season unfolds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks

Third in the MVP race is yet another big man, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Continuing to grow year by year, he’s made the Milwaukee Bucks a perennial contender and is going for his third MVP award. 

With a litany of great recent performances, Giannis has been averaging a stellar 30.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists this season, showcasing his skill on both sides of the ball.

Even with the addition of a ball-dominant guard like Damian Lillard, Giannis has kept up his high level of play from last year, only scoring slightly less.

Beyond scoresheets, Giannis remains a driving force behind Milwaukee’s success, playing a crucial role on both ends of the court. He locks down the inside on the defensive side of things and, as always, is like a bull in a china shop on offence, using his 6’11 frame to body defenders of all sizes.

While currently at number three, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s consistently outstanding performances and impact on the Bucks make it hard to count him out of the race for the MVP title.

And if he sustains this level of excellence, he could certainly ascend and find himself with his third MVP when all things are said and done

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s fourth-place MVP position might be a surprising name to see for some, but he’s really stepped into his own this season. The Canadian guard has been a consistent high-performer, boasting season averages of 30.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. 

This play has led the young OKC roster to 19 wins, taking games off of some serious contending teams. He’s been playing consistently at a high level all season and manages to elevate the play of everyone around him.

He may still have some areas to work on, especially when it comes to forcing isolation possessions, but he’s truly advanced to superstar status. He has managed to take a “rebuilding” roster to the top of the Western Conference and will likely finish with a top-four seed when everything is said and done.

Despite the team’s rebuild phase, Gilgeous-Alexander’s standout performances make him a dark horse in the MVP conversation, and if he maintains this level of excellence, he could continue to climb the ranks as the season unfolds.

Luka Dončić – Dallas Mavericks

Luka Dončić has been carrying the dilapidated Dallas Mavericks roster since Kyrie went down earlier in the season and is still managing to pull out some tough wins. The Slovenian sensation has been nothing short of extraordinary, boasting season averages of 33.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 9.2 assists.

The versatile 6’8 guard has been doing everything on the court, from lighting teams up from beyond the arch to slashing and abusing mismatches. He even recently had a 50-point outing against the Phoenix Suns, where he went 8-16 from three.

It’s quite sad Kyrie Irving went out early in the season because if he could play with Dončić right now, they would likely top the Western Conference.

If he continues to play the way he does, dragging the Dallas roster to wins, he’ll be a serious MVP candidate, no doubt.

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