Giannis Antetokounmpo leads strong list of MVP candidates


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Giannis Antetokounmpo

The NBA regular season is nearing the finish line and several names have come up through the season as MVP candidates. Who are the front runners and who is likely to bring home the honor?

Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks

The 24-year old, known as the "Greek Freak", is already in his sixth NBA season. A legitimate star each of the past three seasons, Antetokounmpo may be the best all around player in the NBA.

Hovering just above the .500 mark each of the last two seasons, the Bucks now have a legitimate shot at winning 60 and have the best record in the NBA. Clearly, Antetokounmpo is a major reason for that.

With LeBron James out West and the Bucks gaining national exposure, Giannis is at the forefront and taking advantage of it. He's averaging 27.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, six assists and shooting 58 percent from the floor, all career highs.

James Harden - Houston Rockets

Harden's name has been in the mix for quite some time for MVP honors, finally taking home the honor last season. The Rockets were hurt by injuries for much of the season and Harden has carried the team on his back. They are currently a number three seed in Western Conference with a shot at a 50-win season.

Harden had a 32-game streak with at least 30 points and is averaging a league high 36.5 points per game. That is the highest scoring average since Michael Jordan's 37.1 output in 1986-1987. Should he surpass Jordan's output, it would be the highest single season scoring average since Wilt Chamberlain's 44.3 back in 1962-1963.

Harden leads the league in field goals attempted, field goals made, three-pointers attempted, three-pointers made, free throws attempted, free throws made. On top of that, Harden averages 7.5 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

Those number may not be enough to overtake Giannis for top honors.

Nikola Jokic - Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets won 46 games last season and have vaulted to 49 with ten games remaining. They have a shot at overtaking the Warriors for top seed in the Western Conference. The leader of the team is Nikola Jokic, who has quietly become one of the top talents in the NBA in his fourth season.

The 7-foot Jokic is averaging 20.2 points, 12.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game, all career highs. The young Nuggets who were once considered a solid up and coming team to a possible winner out of the Western Conference.

Earning an All-Star selection immediately put Jokic among the NBA's elite. A double-double threat, Jokic is in the top ten in that category and is second in the league in triple-doubles.

While likely coming up short in the MVP vote, Jokic will get consideration and the sky appears to be the limit with some MVP awards in his future.

Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers

After one of the worst teams in the NBA for several seasons, Joel Embiid lead "The Process" as it was called in Philadelphia, bringing the team back into playoffs last season, winning 52 games. On pace for around the same this season, the third seeded 76ers could have enough to take the Eastern Conference.

The clearly leader is Joel Embiid, having his best season in his third NBA. A two-time All-Star, Embiid is averaging 27.5 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while shooting 81 percent from the free throw line. Those are all career highs and he's fourth in the NBA in scoring and second in rebounding.

Embiid has turned into one of the top defensive players in the league and likely the most dominant centers. He has the work ethic and desire to be the best. He wont win MVP this year, but the big man from Cameroon is in the mix and likely to win one at some point.

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