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Monday, May 29, 2023

Every NBA MVP Runner-Up Since 2000

As the old saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20”. We can always look back on our decisions and lives and feel like we could have done better or made wiser choices in certain situations. This is the same for most conversations when it comes to the NBA MVP. There are always fans as far back as the award has existed who will step in and feel like one player got robbed while another was “gifted” the award. We are even seeing it currently with Nikola Jokic performing so well in the playoffs as this year’s MVP runner-up, while the actual MVP, Joel Embiid, was sent home in the second round.  

Our journey today will take us through every MVP race since the year 2000 and the best players in the game over that time. Instead of celebrating and diving into the MVP winners, we will instead take a look at the players who fell just short of the MVP award that season. After taking a look at their production and how it impacted their teams, we will make a determination on if they deserved the award themselves or if the right decision was made by the voters. In many instances, the MVP voting may not have come out the way we would have liked, but in others, there is a real gripe with the final voting results.

These are the NBA MVP runner-ups since 2000.

1999-00 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Kevin Garnett

Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

1999-00 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Shaquille O’Neal – 1,207 Points

2. Kevin Garnett – 408 Points

3. Alonzo Mourning – 367 Points

We start things off with an easy MVP race that certainly went to the right player. Shaquille O’Neal was undoubtedly the MVP in 2000 as the most dominant player on the face of the Earth and the leader of the soon-to-be three-time world champion Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neal cruised to the MVP by winning the scoring title with 29.7 PPG, 13.6 RPG, and 3.0 BPG. Lurking in the distance behind Shaq was a young power forward named Kevin Garnett, who would eventually get his own MVP four years later.

In 2000, Garnett would play 81 of 82 games during the regular season and lead the Timberwolves to a 50-32 record. Garnett was recognized for his all-around dominance on the court with the skills of a guard trapped in a power forward’s body. His two-way play on the court was unbelievable, as he averaged 22.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.6 BPG. He also finished seventh in the Defensive Player of the Year race, while Shaq finished second to Alonzo Mourning. As far as the MVP goes, this was O’Neal’s award for most of the season as he turned in one of the greatest single seasons in NBA history and eventually led the Lakers to their first NBA championship since 1988.

2000-01 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Tim Duncan

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2000-01 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Allen Iverson – 1,121 Points

2. Tim Duncan – 706 Points

3. Shaquille O’Neal – 578 Points

It is hard to argue Allen Iverson’s 2001 MVP win, considering everything that transpired for him and the Philadelphia 76ers that season. Iverson would win both the scoring title and steals title with 31.1 PPG and 2.5 SPG. He also dished out 4.6 APG and shot the ball 42.0% from the field. He would lead the league’s best defense to the NBA Finals that year as well, becoming the only team to defeat the Lakers in any playoff game as they repeated as NBA champions.

For Tim Duncan, his offensive numbers were always a bit short when compared to previous MVP winners. During the 2001 season, Duncan averaged 22.2 PPG, 12.2 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. He finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting as well and led San Antonio to a 58-24 overall record. He also finished fourth in the league in rebounds and ninth in blocks on the year. Eventually, the MVP went to the right player, but it could be argued that Shaq had a better case for MVP in 2001 than Tim Duncan.

2001-02 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Jason Kidd

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2001-02 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Tim Duncan – 954 Points

2. Jason Kidd – 897 Points

3. Shaquille O’Neal – 696 Points

The 2001-02 MVP race is one of the closer races on our list between winner Tim Duncan and runner-up Jason Kidd. Duncan would average 25.5 PPG, 12.7 RPG, and 2.5 BPG to take home the award while leading the Spurs to 58 wins once again. It would be the first time that Duncan was named MVP in his career after having already become an NBA champion and Finals MVP in 1999. 

Our runner-up for MVP, and who could have easily been the winner of the award, was Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets. Kidd led a lackluster Nets team to a 50-32 record, averaging 14.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 9.9 APG, and 2.1 SPG. Kidd’s case for MVP went far beyond his own numbers on the season as the Nets began to make their push to become contenders. Kidd made teammates Kerry Kittles, Kenyon Martin, and Keith Van Horn look like superstars on the court and would end up leading them to the NBA Finals that season.

2002-03 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Kevin Garnett

Credit: Joe Robbins-USA TODAY Sports

2002-03 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Tim Duncan – 962 Points

2. Kevin Garnett – 871 Points

3. Kobe Bryant – 496 Points

The 2002-03 NBA season marked another close race for the MVP award. This time, it came down to two all-time great power forwards duking it out atop the voting results. In the end, it was Tim Duncan coming away with his second straight MVP over Kevin Garnett by less than 100 points. Duncan averaged 23.3 PPG, 12.9 RPG, and 2.9 BPG on over 51.0% shooting to secure the award. The Spurs would go on to win 60 games, and Garnett would have to wait for his MVP a bit longer with his second runner-up finish in four seasons. Duncan would become one of the few MVPs to go on and win Finals MVP as well

Garnett made a serious case for his first MVP. He finished top 10 in scoring with 23.0 PPG and second in rebounds with 13.4 RPG. He also finished top 20 in blocks and finished third in the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year voting. The Minnesota Timberwolves would win 51 games with Garnett leading the way as he inched closer and closer to his first career MVP award.

2003-04 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Tim Duncan

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2003-04 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Kevin Garnett – 1,219 Points

2. Tim Duncan – 716 Points

3. Jermaine O’Neal – 523 Points

For the 2003-04 MVP race, Kevin Garnett flipped the script on Tim Duncan and took home his first career MVP award in blowout fashion. Garnett earned the honor with his truly spectacular play on both sides of the ball. He outscored and outrebounded Duncan with 24.2 PPG and 13.9 RPG while adding 1.5 SPG and 2.2 BPG. They were also similarly efficient in shooting the ball, as Garnett shot 49.9% on 19.6 attempts, and Duncan shot 50.1% on 17.1 attempts.

Garnett was also able to flex his playmaking muscle a bit more with 5.0 APG to Duncan’s 3.1 APG. The Timberwolves would also finish one game ahead of the Spurs in the Western Conference standings with a 58-24 record. Garnett would even go on to prove that he deserved the award in the NBA playoffs, leading the Timberwolves to their first and only appearance in the Western Conference Finals. Overall, Duncan put up an incredible effort, but Garnett was the deserving and rightful MVP in 2003-04.

2004-05 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Shaquille O’Neal

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2004-05 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Steve Nash – 1,066 Points

2. Shaquille O’Neal – 1,032 Points

3. Dirk Nowitzki – 349 Points

The 2004-05 season marks the first controversial MVP decision on our list. Winning the MVP award was Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. Even though he was the leader of the most potent offense in the league and dished out a league-leading 11.5 APG, many thought the award should have been Shaq’s. The voters were clearly torn as well, with Nash receiving 65 first-place votes and O’Neal getting 58.

It was Shaq’s first season with the Miami Heat, and he had helped lead them to a 59-23 season averaging 22.9 PPG, 10.9 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. Meanwhile, Nash was one of the lowest-scoring MVP winners in league history with 15.5 PPG. Efficiency was extremely close as well, with Nash finishing with 50/40/88 shooting splits. O’Neal led the NBA with a 60.1% field goal percentage on the season. In an MVP race as close as this, O’Neal had a serious case to be declared the winner of this one.

2005-06 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – LeBron James

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2005-06 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Steve Nash – 924 Points

2. LeBron James – 688 Points

3. Dirk Nowitzki – 544 Points

The 2005-06 MVP race is still considered to be a controversial one despite it being far less close when it came to the voting. Steve Nash won his second consecutive MVP award with over 230 points overall and received 57 first-place votes, with 22 being the closest in that regard by Kobe Bryant. Nash earned his second straight MVP averaging 18.8 PPG and 10.5 APG on over 50/40/90 shooting splits. The Suns would win 54 games that season, and Nash won his second straight assists title.

It was just LeBron James’ third season in the NBA, and it is arguably one of the best seasons of his career. James averaged a career-high 31.4 PPG on 48.0% shooting overall and 33.5% shooting from three. He added 7.0 RPG, 6.6 APG, and 1.6 SPG as well to lead the Cavaliers to a 50-32 record on the season. For LeBron, he would have to wait for his first career MVP award, and Nash walked away with his second in a row.

2006-07 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Steve Nash

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2006-07 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Dirk Nowitzki – 1,138 Points

2. Steve Nash – 1,013 Points

3. Kobe Bryant – 521 Points

After two consecutive seasons finishing third in the MVP voting, Dirk Nowitzki would capture the 2006-07 MVP award for the first and only time in his career. Nowitzki was incredible for the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 24.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 3.4 APG. He shot 50.2% overall from the field and 41.6% from three and made it a 50/40/90 season with 90.4% from the foul line. Nowitzki and the Mavericks would win 67 games, making him the clear-cut choice for MVP ahead of Nash, winning his third in a row.

Nash would have another incredible season in Phoenix, averaging 18.6 PPG and an NBA-leading 11.6 APG for his third assists title in a row. The Suns would also win over 60 games but fell well short of Dallas’ total with 61 wins. It would be the final time in his career that Nash would finish in the top three for the MVP, finishing just 125 points shy of winning three consecutive MVP awards, which probably worked against him in this case.

2007-08 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Chris Paul

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2007-08 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Kobe Bryant – 1,100 Points

2. Chris Paul – 894 Points

3. Kevin Garnett – 670 Points

The 2007-08 season marked the one, and only MVP award win for the late, great Kobe Bryant. In the 2007-08 season, Bryant would play all 82 games and 38.9 minutes per game while averaging 28.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.4 APG, and 1.8 SPG. Bryant would help lead the Lakers to 57 wins and an eventual berth in the NBA Finals. He narrowly missed his third straight scoring title, finishing second behind LeBron James and finished fifth in total steals.

Speaking of two-way play, no one played with a more complete game than 2008 MVP runner-up Chris Paul. The 2008 season was Paul’s third season in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets and one of the best single seasons of his career. Paul would average 21.1 PPG on 48.8% shooting from the field. He also captured the first assists and steals title of his career with 11.6 APG and 2.7 SPG while leading the Hornets to 56 wins.

2008-09 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Kobe Bryant

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

2008-09 NBA MVP Ranking

1. LeBron James – 1,172 Points

2. Kobe Bryant – 698 Points

3. Dwyane Wade – 680 Points

The 2008-09 MVP race marked the first of four MVP wins for LeBron James in his career. James received 107 first-place votes, while no other player received more than seven first-place votes. The 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers would win 66 games led by James, who had just three other teammates average at least 10.0 PPG on the season. James averaged 28.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.2 APG, and 1.7 SPG on the season, finishing second in the NBA in scoring with 28.4 PPG and seventh in steals.

Kobe Bryant was the runner-up for the 2009 MVP award, finishing second to James despite receiving just two first-place votes. Bryant led the Lakers to 65 wins during the regular season, with just three other teammates averaging at least 10.0 PPG as well. Although he missed out on the MVP, Bryant would have the last laugh as he led the Lakers to their first NBA title since 2002 and won the Finals MVP award in a series win over the Orlando Magic.

2009-10 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Kevin Durant

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2009-10 NBA MVP Ranking

1. LeBron James – 1,205 Points

2. Kevin Durant – 609 Points

3. Kobe Bryant – 599 Points

In 2009-10, LeBron James would go back-to-back as MVP for the first of two times in his career. With the Cavaliers this time, James would lead the team to 61 wins and the sixth-highest-scoring offense in the NBA. In total, for the season, James averaged 29.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.0 BPG. He finished second in the NBA in scoring and sixth in assists in one of his most impressive MVP wins yet.

The runner-up for the 2010 MVP award did win the scoring title that season with 30.1 PPG. Kevin Durant was the NBA’s scoring leader and runner-up to the MVP with 30.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.0 BPG. He shot the ball 47.6% from the field overall and 36.5% from three. Durant would lead the Thunder to a 50-32 record as well, which was one of their best records as a franchise up to that point.

2010-11 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Dwight Howard

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2010-11 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Derrick Rose – 1,182 Points

2. Dwight Howard – 643 Points

3. LeBron James – 522 Points

The 2011 MVP race was dominated by its youngest winner in history. Derrick Rose was a man possessed during the 2011 NBA season, leading the Chicago Bulls to 62 wins at just 22 years old. Rose earned his first and only MVP by averaging 25.0 PPG, 7.7 APG, and 1.0 SPG. Teammates Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah both missed over 20 games for Chicago that season, making Rose’s accomplishments that more impressive without the benefit of his two best teammates on the court with him. 

Dwight Howard made a serious push for the MVP in 2011 as well with the Orlando Magic. Howard was already named the Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 1.4 SPG and 2.4 BPG on the year and helping the Magic win 52 games. He added 22.9 PPG and 14.1 RPG as well to earn hefty consideration for his first MVP award from voters. Unfortunately, Howard would never come this close to the MVP again in his career and was never named MVP of the league at any point.

2011-12 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Kevin Durant

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2011-12 NBA MVP Ranking

1. LeBron James – 1,074 Points

2. Kevin Durant – 889 Points

3. Chris Paul – 385 Points

For the second time in three seasons, Kevin Durant would finish as the runner-up to LeBron James for the MVP award. James earned the award for the third time in his career after a dominant, revenge-filled season with the Miami Heat. At this time, James was in his offensive and defensive prime as a player and finished fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting. He averaged 27.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 6.2 APG, and 1.9 SPG, as Miami would win 46 games (out of 66) and go on to win the NBA championship. 

Durant found himself on the outside looking in for the second time in his career when it came to the MVP award. Durant and the Thunder would win 47 games with just 19 losses as they went on to face James and the Heat in the NBA Finals that season. Durant would win his third scoring title averaging 28.0 PPG, and added 8.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.2 BPG as well.

2012-13 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Kevin Durant

Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

2012-13 NBA MVP Ranking

1. LeBron James – 1,207 Points

2. Kevin Durant – 765 Points

3. Carmelo Anthony – 475 Points

History would repeat itself in the 2012-13 MVP race as, once again, LeBron James would take the award away from runner-up Kevin Durant. If James deserved the award in 2012, he really deserved it in 2013, as he had the greatest season of his career. James narrowly missed becoming the Defensive Player of the Year, finishing second to Marc Gasol for that honor. He averaged 26.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, and 0.9 BPG, as the Heat would win 66 games and go on to win another NBA championship over the Spurs in the end.

For Durant, there wasn’t much he could do to quell the heartbreak of missing out on MVP narrowly for the third time in his career. Durant averaged 28.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.3 BPG in 66 games played. Durant and the Thunder would win 60 games for one of their best seasons since moving to Oklahoma City, but it still wasn’t enough to sway voters in Durant’s favor.

2013-14 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – LeBron James

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2013-14 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Kevin Durant – 1,232 Points

2. LeBron James – 891 Points

3. Blake Griffin – 434 Points

Finally! The MVP for the 2013-14 season was none other than Kevin Durant, who finally swayed the voters in his favor ahead of LeBron James. Durant was able to capture his first and only MVP by winning his fourth career scoring title with 32.0 PPG on 50.3% shooting overall and 39.3% shooting from three. He added 7.4 RPG, 5.5 APG, and 1.3 SPG to lead the Thunder to 59 wins and a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

For James, it was an opportunity to make history as only the fourth player in NBA history to win three straight MVP awards. Unfortunately, voters are apprehensive when awarding any player with a third straight MVP. James performed well in his fourth season with the Miami Heat. He averaged 27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.3 APG, and 1.6 SPG and led the Heat to 54 wins and a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance. It would be the last season James spent in Miami and nearly the end of an era in Oklahoma City too.

2014-15 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – James Harden

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2014-15 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Stephen Curry – 1,198 Points

2. James Harden – 936 Points

3. LeBron James – 552 Points

During the 2014-15 season, a new trend began to emerge in the NBA as the three-point revolution got underway. Stephen Curry was beginning to single-handedly change the game as he took the league by storm for the Golden State Warriors. Curry would have a ridiculous season shooting the ball and average 23.8 PPG on 48.7% shooting overall and 44.3% from three on over 8.0 attempts. The 2015 season would mark the only time in the last 10 seasons that the MVP went on to win the NBA championship.

James Harden was another player taking advantage of the increase in three-point shooting averaging 27.4 PPG on 44.0% shooting overall and 37.5% from three. He added 7.0 APG as well as 1.9 SPG as the Rockets won 56 games. This is the first but certainly not the last time Harden appears on this list both as an MVP and runner-up.

2015-16 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Kawhi Leonard

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2015-16 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Stephen Curry – 1,310 Points

2. Kawhi Leonard – 634 Points

3. LeBron James – 631 Points

Stephen Curry would make history during the 2015-16 season in more ways than one. Curry and the Warriors would go on to win an NBA-record 73 games as Curry became the first unanimous MVP in NBA history and the only one since. Curry would capture the scoring title with 30.1 PPG while shooting the ball at a historic rate of 50.4% overall and 45.4% on 11.2 three-point attempts.

For the first time in his career, Kawhi Leonard made a push for the MVP award, but this race belonged to no player besides Stephen Curry. Leonard finished just three points ahead of LeBron James in the race for second place, averaging 21.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG, and 1.0 BPG. Leonard was also the Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row, as the Spurs won 67 games.

2016-17 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – James Harden

Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

2016-17 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Russell Westbrook – 888 Points

2. James Harden – 753 Points

3. Kawhi Leonard – 500 Points

For the second time during the 2010s, James Harden finished runner-up to the MVP due to a historic season from a rival guard. This time, it would be Russell Westbrook becoming the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double in a season that would prevent Harden from earning his first MVP. After losing teammate Kevin Durant in free agency to Golden State, Westbrook averaged 31.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, and 10.4 APG to lead the Thunder to 47 wins and a playoff berth.

James Harden had a historic season with the Houston Rockets as well. Harden would play 81 games in 2017, averaging 29.1 PPG and winning his first career assists title with 11.2 APG. Harden and the Rockets would win 55 games compared to the Thunder’s 47 wins, but Harden received just 22 first-place votes to Westbrook’s 69. Harden would have to wait once again to be named an MVP, but it wouldn’t be too long.

2017-18 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – LeBron James

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

2017-18 NBA MVP Ranking

1. James Harden – 965 Points

2. LeBron James – 738 Points

3. Anthony Davis – 445 Points

James Harden would go on a historic run of his own during the 2017-18 season in order to leave no doubt in the voters’ minds that he was the MVP. Harden captured his first MVP by also capturing his first career scoring title, which ended up being his first of three consecutive scoring titles. Harden averaged 30.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 8.8 APG, and 1.8 SPG to lead the Rockets to 65 wins and earn a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

Finishing runner-up for the first time in quite some time was Lebron James. The 2018 version of LeBron is nearly as impressive as any of the four MVP seasons he had. James averaged 27.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 9.1 APG, and 1.4 SPG for the 50-32 Cavaliers. For the fourth straight season, he would lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, but as he had two out of three times prior, they fell to the Golden State Warriors.

2018-19 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – James Harden

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2018-19 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – 941 Points

2. James Harden – 776 Points

3. Paul George – 356 Points

Once again, during the 2019 NBA season, James Harden would fall just shy of winning an MVP award. This time, a newcomer joined the conversation as Giannis Antetokounmpo became the first international-born MVP since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007. Giannis emerged as one of the most dominant two-way players in the game during the regular season, as he averaged 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. He finished as the runner-up to the Defensive Player of the Year and led the Bucks to a 60-22 record during the season.

James Harden could have easily taken home his second MVP as well. Harden averaged a ridiculous career-high of 36.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 7.5 APG, and 2.0 SPG. Harden, and the Rockets would come up a bit short in the win column during the season compared to Milwaukee, taking home just 53 wins instead of 60. This would be one of the last times that we saw James Harden in the race for the MVP.

2019-20 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – LeBron James

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2019-20 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – 962 Points

2. LeBron James – 753 Points

3. James Harden – 367 Points

The race for the 2019-20 MVP was really a two-man race between Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James. Giannis would end up being the winner with 85 first-place votes compared to LeBron’s 15, and with good reason. Giannis would also be named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year as he averaged 29.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.0 BPG. The Bucks would win 56 games and cruise toward the NBA playoffs, to be held in Orlando in a bubble format.

LeBron James had a spectacular comeback season with the Los Angeles Lakers after missing most of 2019 with a foot injury. The Lakers would win 52 games out of 71, falling short of a full schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. James averaged 25.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG and won his first career assists title with 10.2 APG. James and the Lakers would take advantage of the restart to the 2020 season with an NBA championship and the fourth Finals MVP of LeBron James’ career.

2020-21 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Joel Embiid

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2020-21 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Nikola Jokic – 971 Points

2. Joel Embiid – 586 Points

3. Stephen Curry – 453 Points

The MVP race for the next three seasons would look quite familiar with the same two men at the top of the voting for all three races. In 2021, the victor would be Nikola Jokic of Serbia, who had emerged as the best offensive center in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets. Without Jamal Murray, who fell to injury, Jokic led the Nuggets to 47 wins while averaging 26.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 8.3 APG.

Despite Jokic’s incredible display of offensive basketball, many thought Joel Embiid deserved the award for his impactful all-around play. He led the 76ers to 49 wins on the season while averaging 28.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.4 BPG. The conversation and heated debate was on between these two elite centers, and it has not stopped since.

2021-22 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Joel Embiid

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

2021-22 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Nikola Jokic – 875 Points

2. Joel Embiid – 706 Points

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo – 595 Points

The next time the MVP race was to be determined by voting, it was a lot more clear that Nikola Jokic was the MVP, or at least in my mind, it was. Jokic had lost both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. for the entirety of the season with different injuries. He then put the Nuggets on his back with 27.1 PPG, 13.8 RPG, and 7.9 APG on the season to lead them to the playoffs with 48 wins.

Embiid once again staked his claim as one of the best players in the world with his all-around play. He averaged 30.6 PPG to win the scoring title, as well as 11.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. Embiid became the first center to win the scoring title since Shaq in 2002 and led the Sixers to a 51-31 record. Unfortunately, both Jokic and Embiid met a familiar fate when they lost in the early rounds of the NBA playoffs.

2022-23 NBA Season

NBA MVP Runner-Up – Nikola Jokic

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2022-23 NBA MVP Ranking

1. Joel Embiid – 915 Points

2. Nikola Jokic – 674 Points

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo – 606 Points

In 2022-23, Joel Embiid would finally catch up to Nikola Jokic in the MVP race, securing his first win with 73 of 11 first-place votes. Embiid was a scoring machine once again, taking home his second straight scoring title with 33.1 PPG as well as 10.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.7 BPG. Embiid and the 76ers would secure the third seed in the East with a 54-28 record but once again fell in the second round of the playoffs. 

Nikola Jokic may not have won his third straight MVP award, but he is certainly showing his value as the NBA playoffs continue on. Jokic nearly averaged a triple-double in the 2022-23 season with 24.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 9.8 APG. Again, he did this as a center. In the NBA playoffs, he has led the Nuggets to their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history causing many to wonder if it is he who is the real and true MVP for the 2023 season. 

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