Can Joel Embiid hang on to the top spot in our NBA MVP race?

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Dan Roche
·3 min read
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Can Joel Embiid hang on to the top spot in our NBA MVP race? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Out of the All-Star break, some shake-ups in the MVP countdown. No new names, but a shuffling of the deck as the season heats up.

9. Kawhi Leonard (previously: #6)

Season stats: 26.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, 51.1 FG%, 87.0 FT%, 26.5 PER

Kawhi’s numbers have slipped, as has his team’s fortunes. The Clippers are 6-8 in their last 14 games, and Leonard has failed to crack 25 points in six of the last nine games he’s played in.

8. Stephen Curry (previously: #8)

Season stats: 29.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.2 APG, 47.5 FG%, 93.0 FT%, 24.8 PER

In the midst of dragging his team into the West playoff race, Curry has missed the Warriors’ last two games with a tailbone injury. If he can’t get well soon, Golden State will likely fade out of view.

7. Luka Doncic (previously: #9)

Season stats: 28.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 9.3 APG, 48.0 FG%, 75.5 FT%, 26.3 PER

Dallas is hanging around, and Luka is the reason. Averaging 31.0 ppg, 7.9 apg, 9.2 rpg over his last 15 games, including 42/6/9 in a statement win over the Clippers on St. Patrick’s Day.

6. Damian Lillard (previously: #7)

Season stats: 30.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 7.7 APG, 45.6 FG%, 38.9 3FG%, 93.9 FT%, 27.1 PER

The Blazers have vaulted all the way up to the 5-seed in the West behind Dame’s video game numbers. Averaging 36.3 ppg over his last seven, and with teammate CJ McCollum returning from a broken foot, Portland could be trouble down the stretch.

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo (previously: #4)

Season stats: 29.0 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 6.4 APG, 56.2 FG%, 67.9 FT%, 29.3 PER

Giannis and the Bucks are charging for the top spot in the East. He’s averaged a triple-double while shooting 60% from the floor over the team’s last five. They’re 11-1 in their last 12 games, and showing no signs of slowing down.

4. Nikola Jokic (previously: #3)

Season stats: 27.0 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 8.6 APG, 56.6 FG%, 86.6 FT%, 31.6 PER (Leads NBA)

The Joker has Denver clicking on all cylinders. Five triple-doubles in his last 16 games, and the Nuggets are 8-1 in their last nine and aiming at a top-4 seed.

3. James Harden (previously: #5)

Season stats: 25.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 11.2 APG, 47.1 FG%, 86.8 FT%, 24.5 PER

Harden is on a serious roll right now. He’s averaging a triple-double over his last seven games, and has led the Nets to a 14-2 mark over their last 16. Seriously entering the MVP conversation.

2. LeBron James (previously: #2)

Season stats: 25.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.9 APG, 51.3 FG%, 70.3 FT%, 24.8 PER 

Barely in front of the three players behind him in this race right now, and that will certainly change if the high ankle sprain he suffered Saturday night keeps him out any duration of time. 

1. Joel Embiid (previously: #1)

Season stats: 29.9 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 52.5 FG%, 85.9 FT%, 31.4 PER (2nd in NBA)

Like LeBron, Embiid’s reign at his current spot is in serious jeopardy, as he nurses a bone bruise in his knee. His follow-up medical exam later this week will determine if we see him, or another face at #1.