Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic NBA MVP

We’re calling the NBA’s 2021 MVP

The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić and Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid are the top contenders.

The end days are near. As the NBA regular season nears its end, there are many questions that remain unanswered. Who will make the playoffs? Who will win Most Valuable Player? And perhaps most importantly, who will take home the 2021 Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy?

Tensions are higher than Seth Rogen and Willie Nelson having a smoke-off. A cloud of uncertainty loomed thunderously over this abridged season. COVID and injury diagnoses have plagued just about every team. Alas, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m not talking about Adam Silver’s shiny frontal bone.

The notorious MVP

At the top of the season, generational talents Kevin Durant and LeBron James were playing some of the most impressive basketball of their respective careers. There was not a shadow of a doubt that the two Small Forwards were both strong contenders for this season’s Most Valuable Player.

However, injuries stripped them both of this possibility. While Durant has played all but 28 games this season, James has played 43, missing the most of his 18-year career. Both players have come back in great shape, overcoming extreme athletic adversity. However, their on-court talents will not be sufficient to take home the prestigious prize.

2021 is the season of celebrating Centres. For the first time since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000, it appears that two big men are the frontrunners for this year’s Most Valuable Player Award. Las Vegas has Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić and Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid as the two most likely players to take home the MVP trophy.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid

The 76ers are currently 1st in the Eastern Conference. If they are able to keep this up, it will be the first time in 20 years that the team achieves such a feat. Embiid is undoubtedly one to thank for this. 

However, with Jokić’s right-hand man Jamal Murray suffering a season-ending injury in April, the Joker has had a heavy load to carry. In the face of tragic circumstances, the Nuggets have defied the odds and actually improved their Western Conference standings to clinch the 3rd seed. 

The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić

With this accomplishment, Jokić has asserted himself as the powerful leader we all knew he could be. Potential has turned into reality and the Denver Nuggets can no longer be seen as a write-off playoff team. Because of these feats and so much more, Nikola Jokić will be this year’s NBA Most Valuable Player.

All work and no play-in

This year’s playoff seeding will be decided by a play-in tournament. Teams seeded 1st to 6th are in the clear. However, the 7th to 10th teams of each conference will duke it out for the 7th and 8th spots. This gives an opportunity for teams like Washington and Toronto to secure playoff spots despite sub-par seasons. 

However, can the Raptors pull it off? Toronto’s Tampa Bay getaway season has been sponsored by the word “inconsistency.” They are the team who ended a three-game losing streak with a 53-point blowout win against Golden State. The Raptors are ranked 12th in the East and would need to step it up in order to even make it into the tournament. However, forthcoming games versus the Mavericks, Pacers and Kawhi “The One That Got Away” Leonard’s Clippers pose a serious threat to their chances. ■

For more Montreal sports coverage, visit our Sports section.