NBA MVP watch: Damian Lillard moving closer to the top spot

*Disclaimer* Any player on a team currently outside of the Top 8 in either conference will not appear in the bi-weekly Chris Haynes MVP watch.

5. James Harden

25.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 11.2 apg

BetMGM odds: +1200

The Brooklyn Nets are undefeated in March (6-0) and the major component why is the dominance of Harden, who’s averaging a triple-double (27.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 12.8 apg) this month. James lands at No. 5 for the second straight time. The Nets are now tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. When Kevin Durant returns to the lineup, it’ll be interesting to see who will be the most valuable Net. But in the meantime, it’s definitely Harden.

Momentum: Upward

4. Nikola Jokic

26.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 8.6 apg

BetMGM odds: +220

The Joker is steady as they come and it appears the Denver Nuggets could be turning the corner. He remains at No. 4, but he has led his squad to a 6-1 record in March while giving them 27.7 points, 12.0 rebounds and 8.7 assists in those contests. At 24-16, Denver is fifth in the Western Conference standings, tied with Portland. If the Nuggets continue to climb, Jokic’s MVP chances will also climb.

Momentum: Upward

3. LeBron James

25.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 8.0 apg

BetMGM odds: +140

The four-time MVP dropped one spot, but it wasn’t due to a dip in production. Damian Lillard just snatched the No. 2 slot with his heroics this week. Yet still, James has his team 4-1 in March and he’s racked up a couple of triple-doubles this week to keep himself firmly in the MVP race. The Los Angeles Lakers are second in the Western Conference standings, a game and a half back of the top-seed Utah Jazz. James isn’t going anywhere in this conversation.

Momentum: Upward

2. Damian Lillard

30.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 7.8 apg

BetMGM odds: +2000

The Portland Trail Blazers star has climbed up a spot after leading his team to a 6-2 record in March and averaging 33.5 points in that span, which currently happens to be his highest-scoring month this season. Portland is tied with Denver for fifth in the Western Conference standings. Lillard elevating his game while CJ McCollum is working out the kinks from a two-month absence should bode well for his MVP candidacy once the team is fully mended.

Momentum: Upward

1. Joel Embiid

29.9 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.3 apg

BetMGM odds: +650

The Philadelphia 76ers’ star holds down the No. 1 spot for the second consecutive time. But with Embiid a week and a half away from having his knee re-evaluated, he will not remain in the top spot if he hasn’t returned by the time my next MVP Watch is revealed in two weeks.

Momentum: Downward

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