Top 5 NBA MVP Candidates For 2024 | Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Is More Than A Dark Horse

The 2023-24 NBA season begins on Tuesday, Oct. 24, and we’ve been giving you previews here at The Shadow League. Of the many topics fans like to debate, none sparks as much enthusiasm as MVP.

The last five awards have gone to an international player, is that going to continue this season?

Here are the top five candidates based on age, ability, team’s likelihood of success and narrative.

1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

The two-time MVP, last year’s runner-up and the reigning Finals MVP is the best player in basketball. He showed that on the biggest stage, leading the league in total points, rebounds, and assists in the playoffs and averaging a triple-double leading the Nuggets to their first championship.

In the regular season he was also elite. He lead the league in EPM, EW, and WS/48 for the third consecutive season. For you counting-stat people, he averaged 24 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists per game for the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed.

With all due respect to the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid. Jokic should have won his third straight award last season. He essentially “gave it away” because he was tired of being asked about if he should win it again.

2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

In five NBA seasons, the 24 year old from Slovenia has been All-NBA first team four times as well as a four-time All-Star. He is the sun that the Mavericks orbit around. He is a one-man offense unto himself.

Last year he finished sixth in EPM and fourth in EW. The individual dominance is there. Can he and Kyrie Irving lead the team to a top-four finish in the Western Conference?

If that happens the narrative will shift in his favor.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Another two-time MVP winner, a walking double-double and arguably the most dominant two-way force in the league.

Last season was a “down year” for Giannis, as he was ninth in both EPM and EW. But his counting stats were impressive. He averaged 31 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists per game in the regular season. He led the Bucks to the best record in the league.

They flameD out in the first round of the playoffs as he battled injuries. But he has a new sidekick this season in Damian Lillard. If the Bucks reel off 15-20 games in a row and Giannis dominates he’ll be in the MVP discussion.

4. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

It seems like Tatum has been around forever. But he’s only 25 as he is entering his seventh NBA season. He is the best player on a legitimate title contender. He was just outside the top-10 in EPM last season but was third in EW.

He is an apex predator wing scorer who averaged 30 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game last year, and he can defend.

But something seems off when Tatum comes to mind as being the best player in the world. Maybe it’s because in his last two postseasons he’s come up short? The MVP is a regular season award, so that shouldn’t matter, but it no doubt is a factor.

This is a pivotal year for Tatum and the Celtics.

5. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

I know what you’re thinking. What about Embiid? Curry or Durant?

There is so much drama in Philadelphia right now, I’m not sure they will be good enough for Embiid to repeat. Curry and Durant might not play the 65-games required to qualify for the award.

SGA is 25 and coming off his first All-NBA first team honor. The Thunder will be better than last year’s play-in team, and, more important, they have the pieces to trade for an elite disgruntled superstar to pair with SGA. Hmmm … where could general manager Sam Presti find one?

On the floor he was eighth in EPM and fifth in EW last season. He averaged 31 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game last season. He was the best player during the FIBA World Cup this past summer.

If the Thunder are competing for a top-five spot in the West, they will be a huge story and SGA will be getting a lot of attention.

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