NBA MVP race: Can Sixers' Joel Embiid overtake Nikola Jokic?

Dan Roche
·4 min read
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Can Embiid overtake Jokic in the MVP race? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The shuffle is real on the countdown this week, but the man at the top has only strengthened his grip on the No. 1 spot in our MVP rankings.

9. LeBron James (previously: No. 5)

Season stats: 25.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.9 APG, 51.3 FG%, 70.3 FT%, 24.7 PER 

The Lakers are at 15 games and counting without their future Hall of Famer, and their record shows it. They are 7-8 without James and two weeks from now, the King may not even get a mention on this list.

8. Damian Lillard (previously: No. 7)

Season stats: 28.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 7.7 APG, 44.0 FG%, 37.9 3FG%, 92.5 FT%, 25.1 PER

Lillard was as hot as any player in the game a month ago. Since then, he and the Blazers have hit the skids. Over his last 11, Lillard is shooting just 37.4 percent from the floor, and averaging 22.5 points, more than six points off his season average. Now he has missed his last two games with a hamstring injury.

7. Luka Doncic (previously: No. 6)

Season stats: 28.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 8.7 APG, 48.6 FG%, 72.7 FT%, 25.9 PER

Doncic has been the Mavericks’ do-it-all man all season long, including a walk-off circus shot against Memphis last week. But for as much as he brings to the team, it doesn’t seem to be enough, as the Mavs have lost five of seven and dropped to seventh in the West.

6. Kawhi Leonard (previously: No. 8)

Season stats: 25.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.1 APG, 51.6 FG%, 87.8 FT%, 26.9 PER

Leonard was hobbled by a foot injury this past week, costing him four games. He’s missed 13 games this season already, making even a top-five finish on this list unlikely.

5. Donovan Mitchell (previously: No. 9)

Season stats: 26.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 5.2 APG, 43.8 FG%, 84.5 FT%, 21.4 PER

Mitchell has really turned things on of late, dropping three 40-point games in a five-game span last week. He's averaging 30.6 points over his last 16.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo (previously: No. 4)

Season stats: 28.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 6.1 APG, 56.5 FG%, 68.3 FT%, 28.8 PER

Antetokounmpo has been dealing with a knee injury for a month now, and the Bucks hope it isn’t something that lingers into the postseason. He missed six consecutive games but delivered a very strong effort in a losing cause Friday night against Memphis: 28/11/8 in less than 30 minutes. It’s the eighth time a player has reached those marks in less than 30 minutes. Antetokounmpo has done it five times.

3. James Harden (previously: No. 2)

Season stats: 25.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 10.9 APG, 46.3 FG%, 87.0 FT%, 24.6 PER

Harden was aiming at unseating Nikola Jokic from the top spot until a hamstring injury sent him to the sidelines. He has missed eight of the Nets’ last nine games and 15 total games this season.

2. Joel Embiid (previously: No. 3)

Season stats: 30.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, 51.6 FG%, 85.5 FT%, 31.4 PER (Leads NBA)

The Sixers' All-Star big man picked up right where he left off after missing time with a bone bruise in his knee, averaging 30.1 points and leading his team to a 6-1 record. However, he’s missed 18 games already this season; is it too much to overcome?

1. Nikola Jokic (previously: No. 1)

Season stats: 26.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 8.8 APG, 56.7 FG%, 85.5 FT%, 31.3 PER (2nd in NBA)

Injuries have befallen virtually every MVP candidate this season, except for our leader. You know what they say: “The best ability is availability.” Jokic has played consistently excellent basketball without missing one game. It will take a Herculean effort to overtake him down the stretch.