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KIA NBA MVP Race: A new leader at the top as LeBron James and Joel Embiid are sidelined

Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic
Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic
ANALYST
Modified 30 Mar 2021
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With injuries to both LeBron James and Joel Embiid, our most recent power rankings for the NBA MVP race represent an ever-changing list of favorites for the award.

Our updated rankings come after a fortnight of enthralling action. Since the All-Star break, both the Bucks and Nets have gone 7-2. Both Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden have emerged as potential rivals to previous favorites in the NBA MVP race.

Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic continues to lead the Denver Nuggets with wins in seven out of ten games. This has propelled him up to favorite among the bookmakers currently.

2020-21 KIA NBA MVP Race - Updated March Power Rankings

After the All-Star break, it was LeBron James who led the way in our NBA MVP race power rankings. Admittedly, a lot has changed since then and the door has been blown wide open to compete for the title.

Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic have continued their scoring sprees, though have not quite made the cut. Instead, it has been the story of the league's bigs dominating proceedings.

Let's take a look at how James and Embiid's ongoing injury woes have affected our top-5 candidates in the NBA MVP race.

#5 Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks leader Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks leader Giannis Antetokounmpo
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MP - 34.0, PPG - 28.3, AST - 6.4, RPG - 11.5 FG% - 55.8%.

Previous MVP Power Ranking - 5th (-)

Giannis Antetokounmpo maintained his position in the NBA MVP race this week after a stunning run of performances that led the Bucks to an 8-game winning streak.

During that time, Giannis averaged exceedingly close to a triple-double, with 26.4 points, 11.3 rebounds and 9.4 assists and had the second-highest +/- with 16.3 of any player in the league.

Having won the award for the last two seasons, Giannis could make a late surge in the NBA MVP race for an historic three-peat. His Bucks are guaranteed to be in with a chance of topping the East and look more consistent than they did in the first half of the season (7-2 since the All-Star break).

While Antetokounmpo's average points and rebounds have fallen, his overall game has improved. He has already put up a career-high number of triple-doubles with 7 this season and has an offensive rating of 120, only 1 behind his personal best - which came in his first NBA MVP season.

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#4 LeBron James

LeBron James was injured when playing the Hawks
LeBron James was injured when playing the Hawks

MP - 33.9, PPG - 25.4, AST - 7.8, RPG - 7.9 FG% - 51.3%.

Previous MVP Power Ranking - 1st (↓3)

LeBron James' hopes of a 5th MVP award could be in tatters after the veteran suffered a high ankle sprain on the 20th of March. The best-case scenario for the 36-year old is a return on the 17th of April according to the latest updates. This means that he will be out for 3-5 more weeks.

Prior to his injury, LeBron was carrying the Lakers and had them firmly situated in the West's top-3. It also meant he led the NBA MVP race, considering he was averaging a staggering amount of minutes and had the team on his back with Anthony Davis sidelined.

Without the 4-time NBA MVP, the Lakers are going to struggle and will have to muster together must wins against the league's worst, such as victories this week over the Cavs and Magic.

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Published 30 Mar 2021, 00:44 IST
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