Dirk Nowitzki picks NBA MVP, lists his Top 5 players to watch

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Nowitzki explains his Embiid vs. Curry MVP pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Legendary NBA big man and one-time world champion Dirk Nowitzki joined the Takeoff with John Clark podcast this week to chat with Clark about the Sixers, and in particular Philly's current No. 1 athlete Joel Embiid.

Nowitzki, who spent his entire career with one team while chasing a title, has been friends with Embiid for years now and told Clark he's loved watching his game blossom into the MVP-level talent he has now. You can listen to the full conversation here.

But does Nowitzki think the Sixers big man, who poured in 30 points in a Game 1 win against the Wizards on Sunday, deserves to be the 2021 NBA MVP?

Here's how Nowitzki answered the big question:

"There's a few guys right up there. Steph, to me, has done an incredible job this year, winning the scoring title but also just so much fun to watch. He's so easy to root for, obviously, as a little guy just running around everywhere and shooting.

"I think Joel getting the No. 1 seed in the East is super impressive, so he's definitely up there. But from what I've seen so far, I think my vote would go to Steph. But as we know, Joel is young and he'll be in the discussion for a long, long time."

That's a fair answer, even though I think Embiid's full body of work and his absolute domination on both ends of the floor makes him a superior MVP pick against Curry. Curry was truly unbelievable on a far inferior team, so I'm not mad about Dirk opting for the shooting legend.

Clark also asked Nowitzki who he considers his five favorite players to watch in the NBA these days, and while Nowitzki acknowledged there are so many players he loves to watch on a night-to-night basis, he gave us a very solid five-player list:

  • Luka Doncic: "Of course, Luka is definitely one of them. I think that's obvious." 

  • Kevin Durant: "I'm a huge Kevin Durant fan, I think everybody knows that." 

  • Steph Curry: "Steph, when he comes across halfcourt and shooting [...] that kid's fantastic." 

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo: "Giannis, a guy that's two-stepping from halfcourt and still dunking." 

  • Joel Embiid: "He's so much fun to watch, he plays with such a passion, a joy, he's always smiling, getting the crowd involved."

That's a pretty elite list of basketball players right there - and, if you position everything right, an incredible starting five. You can't really argue with Dirk's take here: those five have a good mix of size, different skillsets, and personalities.

Nowitzki was more vague when it came to making a prediction as to which team will come out of the East this year, saying he doesn't like to make those kinds of predictions. Here's hoping he gets to enjoy watching Embiid all the way to the Finals.

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