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Top 5 early contenders for the 2021 NBA MVP award

ANALYST
Modified 20 Oct 2020, 13:03 IST
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#3 LeBron James

2020 NBA Finals - Game Three
2020 NBA Finals - Game Three

The King, LeBron James, will surely be in the reckoning for the 2021 NBA MVP award right from the start of the season. A contender for the prestigious award in almost every season of his illustrious NBA career, LeBron James will likely compete for the NBA MVP once again next campaign.

After finishing second in the 2020 NBA MVP votes behind Antetokounmpo, James showed that at age 35 and in his 17th season, he could still go head to head against anyone in the regular season.

As mentioned before in Anthony Davis' case, LeBron James' NBA MVP chances are arguably a bit inhibited by having the former as his teammate. The younger Davis led the Lakers in PER last year and in points per game while being the team's best defender and a clear candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year.

However, being a top-three candidate for the MVP award in his 18th NBA season would be an absurdly remarkable feat for the King.


#2 Luka Doncic

Los Angeles Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks - Game Four
Los Angeles Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks - Game Four
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The leader of the NBA MVP list for many oddsmakers, Slovenian Luka Doncic will certainly continue to make the same noise he has caused since he first entered the NBA two years ago.

Doncic, the Rookie of the Year in the 2018-19 season and already a top-five finisher in the NBA MVP votes, is likely to be a huge factor in the 2020-21 regular season for the Dallas Mavericks.

With averages of 24.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game in his two-year NBA career, Doncic has been stunning in the NBA, but it was expected considering the career he had for Real Madrid's basketball team.

His second year in the NBA was unbelievable - 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in 61 starts - were incredible numbers for the 21-year-old superstar.

Moreover, his performances against the LA Clippers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs has probably positively impacted his chances for the 2021 NBA MVP award, with many oddsfmakers expecting him to become the latest first-time winner of the NBA MVP.


#1 Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Three
Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Three

Winning the NBA MVP award three years in a row is definitely one of the toughest feats to achieve in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning two-time NBA MVP, will have that chance in the 2020-21 season, but the going is not expected to be easy for him.

Not the outright favourite at this early stage, Antetokounmpo could be the fourth player in NBA history to win the MVP award in three consecutive years, Bill Russell (1961-1963), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) and Larry Bird (1984-1986) being the others.

Antetokounmpo's case, assuming he stays in Milwaukee, will only be enhanced by the supporting cast he has with the Bucks. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is a stat machine who established a new record for PER in a single season (31.86 in the 2019-20 campaign) to beat Wilt Chamberlain's previous record (31.82) from the 1962-63 season.

A similar season from Antetokounmpo, with the Bucks again likely to be among the winningest teams in the NBA, might result in the Greek Freak winning the 2021 NBA MVP award.

However, voters may not go for Antetokounmpo if his Playoffs performances do not improve this season because as per NBA rumors, there are 'narrative' voters who might be looking at things differently when deciding for the 2021 NBA MVP.


Also read: 3 reasons why the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry could win the 2021 NBA MVP award.

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Published 20 Oct 2020, 13:03 IST
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