The NBA MVP race has reached its conclusion and the winner of the inaugural Michael Jordan Trophy will be announced Tuesday evening.
The three finalists for the coveted prize are back-to-back scoring champion Joel Embiid, reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokić and two-time MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo.
This means that, for the fifth year running, the recipient of the MVP award will be an international player, with James Harden’s 2018 win the last by an American.
In a race that has gone down to the wire, here’s how things stand with the announcement forthcoming.
How to watch?
The winner will be announced at 7 p.m. ET on TNT before the second game of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat.
How is the award decided?
The award is decided by a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters across the US and Canada. Each panelist will vote for their top five players from the regular season.
A first-place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth seven, third is worth five, fourth is worth three and a fifth-placed vote is worth one point.
These votes are then added up and the winner is the person with the most combined points.
What’s the latest in the MVP race?
Embiid is now the overwhelming favorite to pick up his first MVP trophy. The Philadelphia 76ers star finished second behind Jokić in both 2021 and 2022 and many feel an award is long overdue for the 29-year-old.
The Cameroonian has somehow reached new levels again this season, something that seemed impossible after being such a dominant force in previous years.
Embiid averaged an incredible 33.1 points throughout the regular season and continuously tore opposition defenses apart. The seven-footer has an ability to score in ways that nobody his size has ever done before, with the Sixers star hitting fadeaways and step-back three-pointers just like a modern-day NBA guard.
To partner with his immense scoring threat, Embiid has also vastly improved when it comes to creating for his teammates. The six-time All-Star averaged a joint-career high in assists per game and nullified the threat of the constant double teams he has faced.
Embiid was also as impressive as ever on the defensive end of the court, something which voters have noted as a key difference between the scoring champ and Jokić.
Despite both having two MVPs to their name, it looks like Jokić and Antetokounmpo will only be good enough to battle for second best this time around.
Both have had impressive seasons and voters would not be begrudged for picking either of them to be their MVP for the year.
‘The Greek Freak’ averaged a career high in points this season with 31.1 and led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the entire NBA.
Like Embiid, Giannis is also a brilliant defender and this gives him an advantage over Jokić in a lot of voters’ eyes.
Jokić led the Denver Nuggets to the top of the Western Conference and was agonizingly close to finishing the season with a triple-double average – the center’s impressive 9.8 assists-per-game being the only stumbling block.
The Serbian’s game is built around his flashy playmaking and this is often the difference maker for the Nuggets. His ability to see passes that nobody else in the arena can sets him apart from other big men and is a huge plus in his case for winning MVP.
However, with all signs pointing to an Embiid win, the Sixers star will become just the second African winner of the NBA MVP after Hakeem Olajuwon lifted the award in 1994.