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2022 PBT Awards: MVP

Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo emerging as clear favorites for the NBA MVP award as they continue to trade fantastic performances.

Kurt Helin

1. Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)

3. Joel Embiid (76ers)

4. Luka Doncic (Mavericks)

5. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

This was the most difficult MVP decision I can remember — tougher than triple-double Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden — and there is a legitimate case for any of the top three to win it. Ultimately, what separated Nikola Jokic for me is the “value” part of Most Valuable Player — Jokic had a larger load to carry this year than either of his competitors. Yes, Joel Embiid was without Ben Simmons for much of the year, but he had the emergence of Tyrese Maxey, then eventually James Harden. Yes, Giannis Antetokounmpo had to play more center with Brook Lopez out much of the year, but he still had Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Aaron Gordon is the second best player on the Nuggets right now, and he would be the fourth best (maybe lower) on those other rosters. In the final analysis, for me Antetokounmpo is the best player in the game today, but Jokic was ever so slightly more valuable to his team.

It was also not easy filling out the final two spots on the roster, with Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, and Ja Morant all having good cases, but I thought Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum had the best seasons and provided the most value.

Dan Feldman

1. Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)

3. Joel Embiid (76ers)

4. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

5. Stephen Curry (Warriors)

This was a three-player race.

Denver with Nikola Jokic on the floor, Philadelphia with Joel Embiid on the floor and Milwaukee with Giannis Antetokounmpo each performed at similar levels. So, to a certain degree, it’s about determining which star had the least help.

That’s Jokic, who – without Jamal Murray and mostly without Michael Porter Jr. – propped up an undermanned supporting cast. He scored a lot and scored efficiently. He continued to show why he’s the best passing center of all-time. And, with his improved conditioning more established than novelty, he defended better than ever.

Embiid and Antetokounmpo were closer to each other than Jokic. To nitpick, trailing as a passer, Embiid didn’t quite drive high-level offense as well as Antetokounmpo.

Jayson Tatum finished a fairly strong fourth by virtue of his scoring, defense and – importantly – missing just five games. Especially with players of this caliber, availability makes a major difference in value.

I could barely decided between Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Durant for fifth? Curry would’ve built a stronger case by playing to the finish, but his injury has at least demonstrated how much he provided Golden State.