July 11, 2024

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Nikola, Shai, and Giannis are NBA MVP top favorites as injured Embiid sidelined

4 min read
MVP CONTENDERS. NBA’s most valuable player (MVP) top contenders Nikola Jokic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are poised to capitalize on Joel Embiid’s absence due to a knee injury.

In the wake of Joel Embiid’s knee injury sidelining him for an indefinite period, the NBA MVP race has taken an unexpected turn, opening the door for new contenders to emerge.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ star was leading the pack midway through the season before undergoing surgery to repair his left knee’s lateral meniscus. With the league’s minimum games rule for award eligibility, Embiid’s chances at a repeat MVP title have effectively ended.
Now, the spotlight shifts to Nikola Jokic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are poised to capitalize on Embiid’s absence.
Jokic, the reigning MVP and linchpin for the defending champion Denver Nuggets, appears to have the inside track for a third MVP title in four seasons. However, rising star Gilgeous-Alexander and perennial contender Antetokounmpo are hot on his heels.
The betting odds favor Jokic, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing him at minus-150. Gilgeous-Alexander follows at plus-230, and Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP, sits at plus-650.
While the established stars are at the forefront, the MVP race this season might witness a dark horse emerge, aiming to break the Embiid-Jokic-Antetokounmpo dominance since 2017-18.
Several long shots are gaining attention, including Jalen Brunson, whose stock is rising as the New York Knicks defy expectations without Julius Randle.
Kawhi Leonard, a catalyst for the resurgent Los Angeles Clippers, and Luka Doncic, who recently scored 73 points in a game, are also in the mix. Other contenders include Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, surprisingly tied for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Embiid’s unfortunate injury has not only shifted the MVP landscape but also sparked debates about the new game-minimum standards introduced this season to discourage “load management.” The collective bargaining agreement now requires players to participate in at least 65 regular-season games to be eligible for awards.
Monica McNutt, an ESPN analyst, emphasizes the importance of player health for the league’s overall appeal. She acknowledges Embiid’s achievements but underscores the need for stars to be available during the postseason, where their brilliance shines on the biggest stages.
Jokic, with his exceptional skills and versatility, continues to impress, maintaining statistics reminiscent of his previous MVP seasons.
His coach, Michael Malone, praises Jokic’s ability to elevate not only himself but also his teammates, defining true greatness.
In Oklahoma City, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s outstanding performance, leading in points, steals, and free throws, adds a new dimension to the MVP race. Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo remains a consistent force, adapting well to a new system under coach Doc Rivers.
As the regular season progresses, the absence of Joel Embiid sets the stage for an intense and captivating finish to the MVP race, showcasing the talent and resilience of the NBA’s top contenders.

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