Yahoo Sports senior NBA insider Chris Haynes updates his latest list of top contenders for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, led by two contenders who got some new teammates at the trade deadline.
CHRIS HAYNES: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to The Haynes MVP watch. Now, this is my third installment of my top 5. I do this every other week. So let's get into it.
At number 5, we have a new player on the list, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Look, Giannis has been the MVP the last two seasons, but the Bucks start the season off slowly. It was hard to justify that he should be in my top 5 MVP watch. But if you haven't noticed over the last few weeks or months, the Bucks have been surging. They found their rhythm. Giannis is still playing at an MVP level, and for this play and for this surge Giannis moves in to my top 5.
Now moving up from number 5 to number 4 is Brooklyn Nets star James Harden. Now this is a little bit controversial depending on who you talk to. A lot of people feel like he should be the favorite. I have my doubts and my views on why I have him at number 4 right now. You can't deny what James Harden is doing.
Yes, Brooklyn Nets are pretty stacked. Yes, there's a lot of controversy and people complaining about the buyout process. But Harden is doing his thing and has the Brooklyn Nets at number 1 in the Eastern Conference. You can't dismiss that. For that, he's at number 4.
Should he be higher? That's up for debate. But there's still time. Harden, number 4.
Now at number 3, some of you may say this is a cop-out. Call it whatever you want to call it. This is the Haynes MVP watch. LeBron James and Joel Embiid tied for 3 right now.
The reason why I'm doing that is because both have missed the difficult time due to their injuries. They're expected back relatively soon, So they still won't be disqualified from winning the award. But this places some doubt if they actually can get that award because other guys have been playing. They have not. But they're expected to come back and play, so we have to see how many games left they're going to have to make their case for MVP.
So as of right now, they're tied for 3. I was thinking two weeks ago they may fall out of the top 5, but no other player really has made a case for why they should be moved in. So I'm putting LeBron and Joel Embiid at number 3, tied.
And at number 2, it is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. He was my number 2 in my last MVP watch. Look, Damian Lillard got some insurance as well-- Norman Powell. They acquired him at the trade deadline. They got Jusuf Nurkic back.
So everything's looking good from a health standpoint. Now it's all up to Damian Lillard to continue carrying this team. And they have to climb up in the standings, which they have a legitimate shot at doing. So as of right, now Damian Lillard at number 2, but he's looking good as far as his chances to rise up in his list.
And at number 1, we have a new player at the top, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. You cannot argue with Jokic has been doing all season long. The team just hasn't been as consistent as we're used to seeing over the last couple of years, but Jokic has arguably been the best big man this season. That's up for debate with Joel Embiid, but the Nuggets go and come as Jokic carries them.
Now Jokic has insurance as well with Aaron Gordon, acquiring him at the trade deadline. So you would think that this will bode well for his candidacy. The Lakers sliding potentially. Look, there's a good opportunity. There's ample opportunity for Jokic to get this award. He's at number 1 right now. Let's see if he can hold this.