Kia Race To The MVP Ladder

Kia MVP Ladder: Top contenders drop triple-doubles in final push

Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo each padded the stat sheet this week.

Giannis Antetokounmpo notched his 10th triple-double of the season against the Wizards.

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Setting the stage this week, there are just 10 days to go in the regular season and plenty of teams continue to make their final push. Perhaps it’s too late for Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards to garner serious mention in the MVP conversation. But can voters really thumb their noses at an electric high-flyer like Edwards if Minnesota finishes first in the Western Conference despite missing a four-time All-Star in Karl Anthony-Towns for nearly a month?

The Wolves head West for a pair of road matchups starting Friday at Phoenix (10 ET, NBA TV), followed by a Sunday clash with the Los Angeles Lakers (10 ET, NBA TV). Although Edwards is listed ninth in today’s edition of Kia Race to the MVP Ladder, we’ve paid close attention all season.

The 22-year-old finally wiggled loose from a four-game shooting slump from deep Wednesday, draining 5-for-12 from 3-point range against Toronto to finish with 28 points to lead Minnesota to its second straight victory.

The fourth-year vet faces serious star power over Minnesota’s next three road games in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. If Edwards and the Timberwolves successfully navigate that minefield, maybe the two-time All-Star will make a late push up the charts.

One stat to know: 39The number of games Edwards has scored 20-plus points this season with 5-plus rebounds, which is just two shy of the career-high 41 games the guard tallied last season.

What They’re Saying: They felt the same as yesterday. Yesterday, I had a couple of inandouts. So, I knew today was gonna be the day they were gonna fall.”– Anthony Edwards after missing six attempts from 3-point range Tuesday and hitting 5-for-12 from distance the next night against Toronto.

Keep track of how our MVP rankings continue to evolve throughout the season.

1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Last week’s ranking: No. 1

Season stats: 26.5 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 9.0 apg

His case: Denver lost, but Jokic put on a triple-double show Thursday against the Clippers with 36 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists as the Nuggets fell a half-game behind No. 1 Minnesota in the West.

The two-time MVP also faced a potential future MVP on Tuesday in Victor Wembanyama, who flirted with a quadruple-double. Jokic tied his season-high with 42 points despite the Spurs rookie blocking his shot four times — and finished with 16 boards and six dimes.

2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Last week’s ranking: No. 2

Season stats: 33.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 9.8 apg

His case: When he wasn’t throwing no-look crosscourt dimes Tuesday in producing his 20th triple-double of the season, Doncic splashed 5-for-11 from deep to seize the Mavericks’ single-season record for made 3-pointers (258).

The Warriors snapped Dallas’ seven-game winning streak that night. But Doncic brought the Mavs back majorly, stepping through on the way to the bank to cash in a win Thursday against the Hawks. He scored 16 points in the second quarter.

3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

Last week’s ranking: No. 3

Season stats: 30.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 6.3 apg

His case: Gilgeous-Alexander missed the fourth of Oklahoma City’s last five games Wednesday at Boston, effectively pumping the brakes for now on what’s been a strong MVP candidacy. Let’s not forget the 25-year-old has starred in 71 of the OKC’s 76 games up to this point.

Given the club’s lead over several teams in the West, Gilgeous-Alexander’s prospects remain alive if the Thunder can maintain and finish among the top three in the conference. OKC is now 1-4 without SGA.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Last week’s ranking: No. 4

Season stats: 30.7 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 6.5 apg

His case: Dropped a triple-double with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists Tuesday in a loss at Washington. He nailed 15-for-21 from the floor while the rest of the team shot 37% as Milwaukee fell to 5-5 this season when the two-time MVP posts a triple-double.

Despite Antetokounmpo scoring 35-plus points in three of his last five games, the Bucks have lost four of five. Milwaukee plays its next four at home.

5. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Last week’s ranking: No. 5

Season stats: 27.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.9 apg

His case: Tatum pushed Boston to its first 60-win season since the 2008-09 season with a 24-point night Wednesday in a 135-100 trouncing of Oklahoma City. The victory marked the Celtics’ 11th in a row at TD Garden and ensures they’ll finish the regular season with the best record in the league.

Expect the Celtics to continue rolling, playing five of their last six at home.

The next five:

6. Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings (Last week’s ranking: No. 6)
7. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Last week’s ranking: No. 8)
8. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (Last week’s ranking: No. 9)
9. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (Last week’s ranking: unranked)
10. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers (Last week’s ranking: No. 10)

And five more (listed alphabetically): Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks; Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns; Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves; Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers; Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans.

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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