The race for NBA awards: Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander battle for MVP

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The race for NBA awards: Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander battle for MVP
Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic battle for the Holy Grail.
Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic battle for the Holy Grail.
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With it being the All-Star Break, it's a good time to take a look at the race for the NBA's six individual awards, culminating in an intense battle for the MVP award.

Rookie Of the Year

The battle for this trophy is clear. In the right-hand corner, Chet Holmgren, who belongs to a team that could win the Western Conference, is having a solid season with very good numbers and is living up to expectations.

In the left-hand corner, a certain Victor Wembanyama, the seven foot four inches freak of nature, with better overall stats, but playing for a team in last place in their conference. The hype is with the Frenchman, and that could be enough, but if OKC actually finish first, Holmgren will have a strong case.

Flashscore ranking: 1. Chet Holmgren / 2. Victor Wembanyama / 3. Brandon Miller

6th Man Of the Year

Probably the most open trophy of all. Several candidates have had excellent seasons coming off the bench. However, the two favourites seem to be Tim Hardaway Jr and Malik Monk.

The former has the best points total, the latter better percentages, but this battle could be determined by "who finishes ahead of the other" in the standings. With the collective balance almost identical at the moment, this is a battle that should take us right through to the end of the season.

Flashscore ranking: 1. Tim Hardaway Jr / 2. Malik Monk / 3. Bogdan Bogdanovic

Most Improved Player

It's likely to be a two-man battle here too, even though SGA could claim it. However, he is in the conversation for a more prestigious award. The favourite since the start of the season has been Tyrese Maxey. With James Harden out of the way in Philly, the point guard has been firing on all cylinders (from averaging 20.3 to 25.7 points).

But in the absence of Joel Embiid, the 76ers' record is slipping and that should work against him. At the other end of the spectrum, it's impossible to ignore the impressive progress (from averaging 14.8 to 21.2 points) of Alperen Sengun. The Turk is shining in Houston, and if he takes his team to the play-offs, it will be hard to deny him the trophy.

Flashscore standings: 1. Alperen Sengun / 2. Tyrese Maxey / 3. Coby White

Defensive Player Of the Year

It's going to be hard not to reward the Timberwolves' season. Vying for first seed in the West, Minnesota also boast the best defensive rating in the league. The return to form of a certain Rudy Gobert undoubtedly has something to do with it.

Now back to being the force that won him the trophy three times with the Jazz, he's on course for a fourth. Anthony Davis may be having a better season as an individual, but his collective statistics don't work in his favour. 

Flashscore ranking: 1 Rudy Gobert / 2 Anthony Davis / 3 Derrick White

Coach Of the Year

NBA trophies are often - and unfortunately - a question of balance when it comes to rewarding the season's outstanding teams. This suggests a Chris Finch - Mark Daigneault battle for Coach of the Year. OKC and Minnesota were clearly not expected to finish this high in the Western Conference, and whoever finishes ahead of the other will have a big advantage in this race.

Nevertheless, should the Wolves take the DPOY and the Thunder the MVP and/or ROY, the chances of the Boston Celtic's Joe Mazzulla - whose side are expected to finish first in the East - and that of the Cleveland Cavalier's J.B Bickerstaff - an unimaginable candidate 12 months ago - would increase.

Flashscore ranking: 1. Mark Daigneault / 2. Chris Finch / 3. J.B Bickerstaff

Most Valuable Player

The best battle is for the MVP award. According to ESPN, Nikola Jokic is the favourite to win the MVP award this season. However, Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will want to get involved.

Jokic is averaging a near triple-double this season, and his fitness and consistency, as well as the fact that he has been the best player in the NBA for multiple seasons now. The Denver Nuggets are also a great team, and defending champions. With Joel Embiid out for the season, the Joker's reign could be back on track.

However, his two rivals have their arguments. The Slovenian is also close to averaging a triple-double and will no doubt finish as the scoring leader (he is averaging close to 35 points). The Mavs' record could weaken him though, as they battle to finish in the top six.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who is also on fire in terms of scoring and is a top defender, could win the Western Conference, which would give him a strong argument. It's obvious that one of the three will be crowned champion at the end of the season.

The choice is not an easy one, especially given the importance of the narrative in the USA. With only a handful to choose from, establishing a ranking for this trophy has definitely been a perilous exercise in recent years, especially when you consider that this award could play a part in determining the others.

Flashscore ranking: 1. Nikola Jokic / 2. Luka Doncic / 3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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