The Denver Nuggets are in the thick of the title race behind another MVP-caliber season from Nikola Jokic. The two-time MVP is leading the league in value over replacement player (VORP) and triple-doubles. Reigning MVP Joel Embiid may not play enough games to win the award, which puts the Joker firmly in front as the trade deadline approaches.
Jokic won the award in 2021 and 2022 with Giannis Antetokounmpo taking home the honors in 2019 and 2020. The last three players to win it are in the running again with a host of young talent nipping at their heels looking for their first. The MVP is far from decided and a strong stretch run could have any one of six players win the award.
As January comes to a close, who is leading the MVP race? The new 65-game minimum is already coming into play and could be a deciding factor in who wins. Here are the top five at the start of February with a hat tip to Jayson Tatum, who just missed inclusion.
5. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Stat to know: SGA leads the NBA in steals and is second in value over replacement player (VORP) this season.
The Thunder have vaulted into the top three in the Western Conference behind Gilgeous-Alexander. The 6’6 guard is the best and most frequent driver in the NBA, and no team can stop him when gets in the paint. SGA is third in the league in scoring and quickly becoming one of the biggest two-way forces.
The Thunder have the best net rating in the West. Gilgeous-Alexander will vault up the MVP standings if Oklahoma City secures the top seed and he continues to put up stellar numbers. SGA is averaging 31.3 points, 6.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.2 steals while shooting 54.7 percent from the field.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander slipped a bit in the ranking as Oklahoma City is just 6-4 in their last ten and others are building up steam.