NBA: 3 predictions heading into the push for the playoffs

NBA Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant James Harden (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant James Harden (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

NBA predictions for the playoff push: Giannis Antetokounmpo will make an MVP push

Before the season, I looked at the MVP odds and thought through each candidate, and sitting right there with +3000 odds was Joel Embiid. He’s like that shirt you had tucked away in your closet that you forgot made you look more desirable and cool than Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.

The cast of usual suspects before the season were LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Anthony Davis, and even Giannis Antetokounmpo himself. When looking at each candidate, the argument against them would outweigh the argument for them.

LeBron, in his 18th NBA season, simply wouldn’t have the overwhelming total statistics to make an MVP case. Giannis is experiencing voter fatigue since being the reigning back-to-back MVP, and a three-peat of MVP awards hasn’t been done since Larry Bird. Doncic, who everyone is ready to crown as the next superstar, is leading a team that is currently the eight-seed in the Western Conference. And the other main MVP players involve the trio in Brooklyn.

So for me, Embiid seemed like the sure thing. He averaged 23 points and 11.6 rebounds per game last season and has increased his scoring to 29.9 points per game while maintaining a steady 11.5 rebounds per game and 2.6 stocks (blocks+steals) per game.

But now he’s injured. And even if he keeps at this statistical pace when he returns, he will have missed too many games to be the MVP in the eyes of the voters.

Enter Giannis Antetokoumnpo, who is averaging 29 points, 11.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.7 stocks per game. The Milwaukee Bucks are currently the three-seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 25-14; just a couple of games back from the one-seed, Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers.

Led by 31.9 points, 12.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 2.9 stocks per game from Giannis, the Bucks are 9-1 in their last 10 games and eyeing that one-seed and homecourt advantage for the playoffs. With those averages and a first-place finish, the voters have to recognize the season Giannis is having, especially with the other underwhelming candidates.