clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Harper: Lillard & Jokic in Tight Race for the MVP

New, comments

As The Athletic’s Zach Harper highlighted Damian Lillard’s role in a tightening two-player race for the MVP.

Portland Trail Blazers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Damian Lillard is on a short list of players with a legitimate shot at winning the 2020-21 NBA MVP Most Valuable Player award. So far this season, the Trail Blazers star has jostled with the likes of Joel Embiid, LeBron James, and Nikola Jokic. If Zach Harper’s latest rankings on The Athletic are any indication, the battle between Lillard and Jokic could provide fireworks down the final stretch of the season.

In his latest look at the MVP race, Harper noted six different categories that gauged a player’s value. Lillard, predictably, generated high marks in each. He chronicled how Lillard has emerged as a steadying force through the Blazers’ injury setbacks.

A large part of Lillard’s case is built on what he does in the clutch. As Harper notes, the Blazers are 20-7 in 27 games that have “triggered clutch situations.” In terms of overall thoughts, he did issue one scenario in the Western Conference standings that could decide how the MVP award is decided.

“Lillard has a real shot at winning this award. He’s only missed a couple of games, and the Blazers are right on Denver’s tails in the standings in the West. If Lillard keeps up this play the rest of the season, it’s hard not to make him top two in the voting. Because so many players on top teams have struggled to stay healthy in this chaotic season, availability becomes so important. Lillard and Jokic have excelled in this category. They have excelled in keeping their teams going. And they have excelled in putting up brilliant numbers. It may come down to whether the Blazers catch/pass Denver by season’s end.”

Throughout the rest of the article, Harper provides rankings for each of the league’s awards. You can read the entire rundown at The Athletic (subscription required).