NBA MVP Ladder 

By Anthony Riquelmy

With the first half of the season wrapping up for the NBA, we were able to see some amazing performances this year so far. We have seen players explode from the bottom to the top, and we have also seen players still dominating at the top with the league in their hands. Here are my top five NBA MVP candidates for the month of January and the first half of the year.

5. Luka Doncic

There is not much negative when you talk about the game of Dallas Maverick, Luka Doncic. From his scoring to his playmaking and rebounding, Doncic is one of the best all-around offensive players in the NBA, as the only flaw that you can argue about his game is his mediocre  defense. 

In the month of January, Doncic averaged 31.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game, according to ESPN. He has played remarkably well as he’s had many outstanding games. His most notable game during January was Dallas’ matchup with the Detroit Pistons where he dropped 53 points with 8 rebounds and 5 assists to go with it. 

Although Luka’s individual success has been astounding and fun to watch, his team success is what stops him from being higher on the list. The Mavericks have been struggling this year to stay above .500 and in the month of January specifically, the team has dwindled to a 7-9 record. 

If Luka Doncic wants to win an MVP award, he will have to do something to get his team a better record and a higher seed but in the meantime, he peaks at five on this list.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo 

In the month of January, Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 33.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game, according to statmuse. Even though these stats are only for one month, you cannot deny the greatness that Giannis has presented to us during this run. 

With his amazing averages, Giannis has had some monster games in that time period. On January 3rd against the Washington Wizards, Giannis had 55 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. He had more to show as he had 41 points against the Indiana Pacers on January 27th, and 50 points against the New Orleans Pelicans on January 29th.

 In January with Giannis’ undeniable help, the Bucks have been able to go 12-4 dominating most of the teams they faced throughout the month, including notable teams like the  LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets.

3. Jayson Tatum

Before game seven of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals, Jayson Tatum sent a text to the late Kobe Bryant. “I got you today,” Tatum texted and then later revealed on Twitter. After the text, the Celtics went on to beat the Miami Heat as Jayson Tatum prepared for his first NBA finals appearance of his career.

Since last year’s NBA Finals, Jayson Tatum has transformed himself into a top five player in the entire league. In the month of January, Tatum has averaged an astonishing 31.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists statline and this has affected the team record tremendously.

The Celtics as a team during the month, had a 9-5 record and beat notable teams like the Brooklyn Nets and the Dallas Mavericks. 

Jayson Tatum is having a great season and January was a great month, but he peaked at the three slot on this list as the two players above him played at a level of their own.

2. Nikola Jokic 

Nikola Jokic has been leading the MVP ladder for weeks on end and there is a good reason why. Across the season, Jokic is averaging 24.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 10 assists while the Nuggets record is currently 44-19 and first seed in the west. 

Jokic is playing at a phenomenal level of basketball and if he ends up winning MVP at the end of the season, this season will go down as one of the greatest MVP seasons of all time. In order to do this, he needs to get past the person with the number one spot on this list first. 

1. Joel Embiid

Throughout the past few seasons, Joel Embiid has always been a top five NBA player. He has proven time and time again that he has a real chance to win the MVP award somewhere throughout his career, and this season might be his best chance. 

Across the season, Joel Embiid is averaging 33.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game, according to ESPN. The 76ers record stands at 42-22 as well. These stats are amazing, but these stats from the month of January will blow your mind. In the month, he averaged 35.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists, his team record was 8-2 for the month as well. Not only this, but he had some notable performances, especially against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets where he had 47 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 assists. He also had 2 blocks and 2 steals.

Embiid has proven this year and the month of January are his time to shine, and he’s ready to take the crown as the best player in the NBA and the MVP award. 

With the season progressing, all of these players are going to be carefully considered for the MVP award. Even though my list represents the month of January and the season so far, it doesn’t represent who will dominate the rest of the season and that’s what matters. The question is, who can take their dominance and assert it at a new level?






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