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NBA MVP Watch: February 2020

NBA MVP Watch

It’s already a month into 2020 and the NBA season is in full swing. This year has seen incredible performances from a number of the league’s biggest stars, both young and old.

Here is a look at the top candidates for the 2019-2020 NBA MVP Award so far.

5. Damian Lillard

29.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 7.9 APG, 40% 3PT

NBA MVP Watch
Dame with the cold shrug, courtesy of CBS Sports

Damian Lillard has stormed his way into the MVP conversation after dominating the league in the month of January. He averaged a league-leading 34 points per game in January, as well as an absolutely absurd 49 points per game over his last six games. 

Due to his herculean efforts, the Trail Blazers have managed to stay in contention for the playoffs in a tough western conference despite missing three starters. If the Blazers continue to win and Lillard’s hot streak continues, expect him to rise up the list down the stretch. 

4. James Harden

35.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, 12.2 FTA/PG

Harden has continued to do Harden things in 2020, score at an obscene rate, get to the line at will and be a solid facilitator. Just like last season, he is leading the NBA in points per game averaging over 35 a night. 

NBA MVP Watch
Harden after hitting a 3, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle

Harden would have been higher on this list earlier in the season but his performance in January was disappointing, to say the least. In January he shot just 35 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range. 

Despite Harden’s struggles, the Rockets have continued to play well and currently occupy the fifth seed in the Western Conference. If Harden can rekindle his form from earlier in the season he has a serious shot at winning the award but as it stands he sits in a fairly distant fourth place.

3. Luka Dončić

28.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 8.7 APG, 12 Triple Doubles 

Luka Dončić, one of the NBA’s brightest young stars, has had an incredible sophomore season for the Dallas Mavericks. After a stellar rookie campaign where he picked up Rookie of the Year honors, Dončićs numbers are up across the board and he is currently top five in both points per game and assists per game. 

Luka and the Mavericks missed the playoffs last year but currently are solidly in the playoffs with a record of 30-19, good enough for sixth in the Western Conference. Luka has been incredible this year but if he wants a shot at the MVP the Mavericks need to secure a top-three seed in the west. The only player who won the MVP on a sixth seed is Russell Westbrook, who averaged a 30 point triple-double in during his historic 2017 season.

2. LeBron James

25.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 10.7 APG, 50% Assist Rate

The evolution of LeBron James over his 17 year NBA career has been something to behold. 

NBA MVP Watch
LeBron running the Lakers offense, courtesy of the LA Times

The four-time league MVP has played many different roles over the years but for the first time this season, he has been given the reigns of an offense as the starting point guard. And in classic LeBron fashion, he has absolutely dominated at the position, leading the NBA in assists while running one of the best offenses in the league. 

The Lakers are the team to beat in the west at 37-11 due to great performances from both LeBron and star center Anthony Davis. At 35 years old LeBron would be the oldest MVP since Karl Malone won the award over 20 years ago and if the Lakers can keep winning it’s very likely that LeBron could capture his fifth MVP this season. 

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo 

30.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 5.7 APG, 3.5 Defensive Win Shares

Who else could it be but the Greek Freak himself?

The Milwaukee Bucks have been rampaging through the eastern conference this season and are on pace for one of the best records in NBA history with Giannis at the center of it all. Giannis is putting up similar numbers to his MVP campaign last season and continues to be one of the NBA’s best players at both the offensive and defensive end. What’s even crazier is he’s putting up these numbers in only 30 minutes a night!

NBA MVP Watch
Giannis after burying a jumper courtesy of JSOnline

The MVP is Giannis’ to lose and barring a major injury or a serious drop in performance its likely that we will see Giannis picking up his second straight MVP award at the end of this season.

 

The Next Five

  1. Nikola Jokic
  2. Kawhi Leonard
  3. Jimmy Butler
  4. Kemba Walker
  5. Rudy Gobert

 

All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference

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