NBA MVP Rankings: Nikola Jokić Takes the Top…

NBA MVP Rankings: Nikola Jokić Takes the Top Spot.

The fourth edition of Sports Illustrated’s NBA MVP rankings are finally here following a brief break after the new year. When we last got together in this space, Joel Embiid was in the top spot for the third straight week. Well, for the first time this season, we have a change at No. 1. Let’s get into the leaderboard.

1. NIKOLA JOKIĆ The Denver Nuggets’ center and two-time MVP takes the top spot this week, thanks in part to some injury troubles for Embiid as well as his own stellar play. After an uncharacteristic dip in efficiency to start this season, the Joker has been on a tear of late. He’s shooting nearly 78% from the field in January. Since Dec. 22, he’s shot under 50%, while shooting at least 90% from the field twice. This goes along with his typical brilliance everywhere else offensively. And despite all the upstarts in the West, Denver is only one game out of first.

Nikola Jokic's passing key to Denver Nuggets' winning streak

2. JOEL EMBIID Embiid has put up at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in his last two games, but he’s played only twice since Dec. 22. So far, he’s played in 27 of the Philadelphia 76ers’ 36 games. If Embiid misses nine more, he would be disqualified from winning this award altogether. Embiid is certainly still very much in the mix. Once he gets back on the floor-and if the Sixers can knock off some better competition-he can quickly re-earn the top spot.

3. SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER The Oklahoma City Thunder continue to impress. They’ve won three straight games, and Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 32.3 points per game on 60.5% shooting so far in January. With OKC also tied for first place in the West, it’s hard to justify having Gilgeous-Alexander any lower than third. And it’s getting even harder to keep him out of the top two.

4. LUKA DONČIĆ Dončić continues to put up absurd numbers. He’s scored fewer than 25 points only once since the start of December. And the Dallas Mavericks are remaining competitive in a crowded field, only four games behind first despite being in seventh place. Dončić has an ankle injury worth monitoring moving forward, and he’s probably a step below the top three, but he has a firm hold on a top-five position.

5. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO It’s getting very tempting to put Jayson Tatum here, but Antetokounmpo’s numbers (31.2/11.5/5.9) remain eye-popping, and the Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a very thorough beatdown of the Boston Celtics. I don’t know how realistic Antetokounmpo’s chances are of winning this season-his case is hurt by Damian Lillard, and the Bucks likely won’t run away with the one-seed. Still, it’s hard to refute the outsized impact Antetokounmpo is having on a nightly basis.


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