We’re on to the last five weeks of the 2020-21 NBA regular season, and as expected, the MVP race is heating up. Luckily for us fans, we are still blessed with many worthy candidates despite the string of superstar injuries.
All-around big man Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, high-scoring and sweet-shooting guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, imposing center Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, and the reigning two-time winner Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks are among the marquee contenders. Voters are bound to make a tough decision.
Those are just the top four. Let’s take a peek at NBA.com’s latest full MVP power rankings:
- Nikola Jokic
- Damian Lillard
- Joel Embiid
- Giannis Antetkounmpo
- James Harden
- Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving (tied)
- Kawhi Leonard
- LeBron James
- Devin Booker
- Chris Paul
Talent and MVP-like seasons are all across that list, but it seems that it’s missing at least one worthy candidate, namely Utah Jazz’s All-Star scoring machine Donovan Mitchell.
The Jazz play a versatile brand of basketball that’s just great to watch. They are tough as nails on both ends, they constantly move the ball, and they can switch to many styles.
All of those are due to many factors, like great head coaching, having an elite presence in the paint in Rudy Gobert, and efficient bench play. At the very top of it all, however, at least arguably, is Mitchell’s scoring prowess, particularly in getting buckets when they need it the most.
Now is also the perfect time to boost the MVP argument for ‘Spida,’ since his seemingly annual late-season scoring tear is happening yet again – it always comes after a slow start and an up-and-down climb to his usual numbers. That has been the case for almost every season.
Mitchell’s first eight games this season saw him average an underwhelming 21.3 points on a terrible 37.9% shooting. He then followed it up with a couple of stretches where he’s under 39% or 42% shooting.
In this current 13-game stretch, meanwhile, he’s torching opponents for 30.9 points per game. He’s also becoming more explosive as he goes along as he has dropped 41, 37, and 42 points over his last three games.
Check out the amped up Utah crowd chanting “MVP” after his 42-point performance Sunday (Manila time):
Best player on the best team
Utah now stands at 40-13 on the season and is sitting atop the league standings, which they’ve been doing for pretty much the whole season. If we’re going with the popular-but-unofficial logic, Mitchell deserves a rank in the top five at the very least. He’s the best player on the best team.
Being left out of the top 10 is even more confusing when you consider that other teams have more than one candidate, especially when it’s a team as loaded as the Nets.
Mitchell and the Jazz will be back on the floor this Tuesday. They’ll clash with the visiting Washington Wizards at 9:00 AM, Manila time.