Dec
09
2020

Border Fuel’s Top Five NBA MVP Candidates

Welcome BF viewers and NBA fans abroad. Today, we are going to discuss the top five candidates to take home MVP honors in the 20-21 season. With emerging young players and seasoned veterans all wanting to add to the old trophy cabinet, this should be interesting, so fans, let’s get ready as we take an in-depth look into players who could be hosting this year’s Maurice Polodoff Trophy:

Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic

In his short NBA career, he has quickly emerged as one of the game’s most electrifying talents. Creating highlight-reel plays with his signature step-back jumper or his incredible passing courtesy of his elite court vision. Last season, he didn’t receive any first or second-place votes and managed to still finish fourth in the voting. We’ll have to dig a little deeper into his game and see how he can make his case even stronger next year.

He was the primary ball-handler facilitating an offense for a team that’s offensive efficiency was record-breaking. They scored a staggering 115.8 points per 100 possessions breaking the former efficiency record by .8, which was set a season earlier by Steph Curry’s Warriors. With Season averages of 28.8 ppg 9.4 rpg and 8.8 apg in only 33.8 minutes a game, it’s pretty clear why he’s here on the list; however, some small improvements to his game could have him at the podium this year.

What’s to work on you ask? His shooting could improve. Doncic has a 31.8 percent three point field goal percentage; that’s below the league average. He runs an efficient offense, but his three-point shot lacks in that area. I credit this to his shot selection; at times, he’ll bail the defense out by settling for a contested step back.

He also could be more tentative defensively. Whether it’s lack of effort or the heavy workload on offense, it needs improving for Luka to take the next step. He needs to use his solid frame at 6’8 effectively. When rebounding, he shows the ability to box out and gobble up boards; he just has to use that same energy keeping himself between players and the basket.

The last thing we’re going to look into is his turnovers. Unfortunately, he’s top four in the league with 4.34 turnovers a game. This dramatically affects his assists to turnover ratio, making it easier on himself by playing off the ball could pay off and make the team less predictable, while adding to his own efficiency by catching the ball in scoring position. Passing out of double teams would allow his assists to stand pat while cutting back on untimely turnovers that come in late-game situations. He’s been reported to slow down in fourth quarters, possibly fatigue sets in.

In Luka’s case, less is more. Less contested threes and fewer turnovers could result in the MVP going back to Dallas. That would be the first time since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007

Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant

Coming off an Achilles injury, Durant will be looking to get back into his traditional MVP fashion. He’s one of the greatest scorers the league has seen. He’s a top-five small forward of all time no matter how you slice the pie. This year he will be the backbone and leader of a Brooklyn team looking to bring home jewelry. He’s a walking bucket, but in recent years, he has become a good defender, and rebounder adding to his all-world skill set.

He will be in the MVP conversation for many reasons. One reason is that he’s no longer on a team with three other all-stars, so his contribution will not go overlooked by voters. Another reason is his defense as if he plays similar to his stint at Golden State, he’ll be the favorite to win it; there, he led his team in points, rebounds, and blocks. Achieve that for a top eastern conference team, and fans would be shocked if he’s not a finalist.

His career averages of 27.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 4.1 apg to go with 48 percent shooting should stand, regardless of the supporting cast. The argument for Durant is obvious, so with that said, we’ll move on to the next candidate:

Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic

If you aren’t familiar with this guy, you’re sleeping on all NBA talent. Joker, as he’s known by fans, is arguably the best big man in today’s NBA. He’s a seven-foot center, who at times looks nonathletic and flat out slow, but that doesn’t stop him one bit.

He is the offensive playmaker behind last year’s western conference finals team: the Denver Nuggets. His ability to pass sets him apart from every big man in basketball, but that’s not all; he scores at will, taking little defenders inside abusing them with his size. While with bigger, stronger defenders, he just rains threes that fall from the sky into the net. It’s reminiscent of Dirk with the high arch on his shots.

At only 25, he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. He can get better defensively and can turn his Nuggets into a top tier defense. If he does this in 2021, he’ll be looked at as a strong MVP candidate. He has the tools to be a decent defender with length and girth inside.

Being in better shape and lighter on his feet could be just what the doctor ordered for the Serbian. He looked a lot smaller in the bubble and his game was bigger than we saw in the past; maybe shedding the extra weight could be his key to long term success in the league. If he ever moves his feet with the quickness to stay in front of guards, he will make his case for the league’s best player.

But right now on a winning Denver team, he’s going to be an MVP candidate who could bring the trophy to the mile high. Stay looking for big things to come from the guy we know as the Joker.

Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul

His name on this list may surprise people but honestly, it shouldn’t. I wrote a column a while back talking bout him going to the Suns, and it happens; so, hold on and let me explain why he’s a candidate before you think it’s not possible:

Chris will have his best year to date with a backcourt partner like Devin Booker. Booker is a lights-out scoring threat who can get buckets on all three levels. Now insert Chris Paul a pass-first “point god” with exceptional leadership skills; this will be the best backcourt in basketball this season, and it shouldn’t be close. The amount of attention Booker will draw Paul never had from a teammate, not while he was still orchestrating the offense Houston; he played off Harden. This will be different because he’ll have the ball in his hands making guys better. Not just Booker, he’s has a lot of guys who can score in a variety of ways.

Teammates like DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges should see a boost in production from the trade acquisition of Paul. In pick in roll, Ayton will get force-fed easy baskets around the rim, and when defenses adjust, it should open up Bridges to get his offense going. This could give coaches headaches on a nightly basis figuring out how to stop the bleeding and slow this team down.

Remember that Paul is the best floor general in basketball; he has the ability to adjust his game to compliment the pieces around him. He can do it all: score, create and defend. If he can get the team in the playoff hunt, preferably a top-four seed, the Suns will have their first finalist since Nash won back-to-back MVPs for the organization.

Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis

Davis has finally got out of the doldrums of the Pelicans franchise. Playing with King James has showcased his talent and skillful play, and going into his second season with the Lakers, he’ll be defending his title as NBA champions.

Although he didn’t get the opportunity to leave the bubble with MVP honors, many considered him the Lakers’ best player throughout the year. His numbers were as followed: 26.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, and a PER of 27.5, which led his team. He actually led them in all statistics other than assists, including field goal and free throw percentage. Motivation to continue where he left off and the king aging could play a part in him making an MVP campaign.

Davis has the undeniable talent to control a game with minimal touches. He can dominate defensively, anchoring the paint like a defensive player of the year candidate, or get buckets like he’s challenging Harden for his scoring title. His offensive efficiency matches some of the best the league has in today’s game. He can shoot from three, put it on the floor, and has a mid-range game that could question today’s analytical guru’s idea that those being bad shots.

It’s safe to say he will only get better going into his second season with his squad. I expect Lebron to be taking games lightly during the regular season since it’ll be his 18th year in the association. With that said, Anthony Davis will be more than ready to drive the Lakers right into the playoffs. He very well could be in the conversation with other Lakers greats. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull off his own single-season trifecta like what Shaquille O’Neal did in 2000 when he won league MVP, the scoring title, and the main one, Finals MVP, with the Lakers.

When you become a great Lakers center, the MVP comes with the territory, and he should be next up. Make sure you leave a comment with who your MVP candidates are and why!