NBA Awards Watch, Wednesday 30th March

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The BetDeluxe NBA experts run through the leaders, favourites and underdogs in the main individual honours bestowed upon the league.

The race for the MVP has really heated up between two star centres of the league and find out who to pay attention to in the defensive player of the year.

NBA MVP award

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia’s soul, spirit and leader. 

The big, bad bustling centre for the 76ers is jostling for NBA MVP favouritism with Nikola Jokic. 

Embiid has averaged 29.9 points per game, 11.4 rebounds per game and 4.3 assists per game in what has arguably been a career-best season. 

Standing at seven-feet tall, Embiid has never scored or assisted at a higher rate in his eight-year span in the NBA. 

His per 36 minutes stats read even better from a scoring point of view with a 32.2 point-per-game average. 

He will no doubt be a popular pick for the NBA’s highest individual honour. 

Nikola Jokic 

This man is basically the Denver Nuggets.

He could go down as one of, if not, the Nuggets greatest ever player. 

Jokic has been unbelievable this season and has backed up his NBA MVP winning year in 2021 with equally impressive numbers. 

The 27-year-old Serbian is almost hitting a triple-double per game and the Nuggets’ reliance on him to perform at a high level has never been greater. 

He has taken his rebounding and defensive game to another level with 13.6 rebounds per game in 2021/22 of which 10.8 of those are defensive rebounds. 

On the offensive end, his points tally reads 26.3 points per match and exactly eight assists. 

The money has come for him to win a consecutive NBA MVP crown and at this rate, he could very well become the favourite.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak has had another phenomenal season, but the market is not exactly gravitating towards. 

His numbers have been very similar to his MVP winning years of 2019 and 2020, so it is a slight surprise to him at nearly double-figure odds. 

He has been scoring at 29.7 points per game, which is the highest average of his career to date. 

If you are looking some value outside of the favourites, he is a worth a nibble if he hits $10 or higher. 

DeMar DeRozan 

What DeMar DeRozan has done for Chicago this year is nothing short of a miracle. 

The Bulls were considered well off the pace with regards to becoming a playoffs team let alone a genuine Championship threat, but with DeRozan leading the way this season, anything is possible. 

The 32-year-old veteran has broken all his career scoring records and has never shot better from the field. 

Going at just over 50% from the floor has seen him be good for 27.7 points per game. 

He will need a big finish to the season if he is to challenge Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic for the MVP Crown, but he is more than capable. 

Luka Doncic 

The Maverick of the Dallas Mavericks. 

Luka Doncic just keeps putting up huge numbers on a weekly basis as helps lead the charge for his beloved Dallas. 

Doncic has been electric again for Dallas this season. 

With the Mavericks sitting in the upper echelon of the Western Standings, it is mostly thanks to the efforts of Doncic at both ends of the court. 

With an average of 27.9 points per game, 8.5 assists and 9.1 rebounds, he ranks as one of the best players in the NBA. 

At only 23 years of age, he has entered the top 10 in all-time scoring for the Mavericks franchise. 

Ja Morant

We all knew Ja Morant had the talent to become a name in lights. 

The Memphis Grizzlies point guard launched himself into MVP consideration in only his third year of NBA. 

Morant has become the marquee attraction for Memphis and his monstrous ability to find the basket against some of the big bodies of the league is not to be undersold. 

His projection is only going one way; sky-high. 

He has upped the ante in almost every department. 

His 19.1 points per game last season has sky-rocketed to 27.6 points per game and he is arguably the league’s best scoring point guard. 

defensive player of the year

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Jaren Jackson Jr has become one of the most feared defensive bodies in the NBA. 

His ability to guard the rim and allow Memphis to go to work on the offensive end has been second to none. 

There is no player in the league with more blocks in 2021/22 than Jackson. 

He has tallied up 167 blocks and is one of the main stayers in the race for this award. 

Rudy Gobert

If injury had not curtailed his season, Rudy Gobert would just about be a lock for the defensive player of the year for second consecutive season. 

Incredibly, though, he is still ranked first in the league for rebounds per game and does have 126 blocks to his name. 

Utah is in the top 10 ranked teams having only conceded 107.6 points per game and we could argue that figure would be much less had Gobert not been injured. 

Mikal Bridges

Chris Paul and Devin Booker are the big dogs at Phoenix, but Mikal Bridges is just as important to the Suns as Paul and Booker. 

The man they dub ‘The Warden’ has become one of the league’s premier defensive stoppers. 

He has put the clamps on some of the biggest names in the league this season including James Harden, Steph Curry and Jimmy Butler. 

Even Stephen A. Smith as declared Bridges has his defensive player of the year. 

Rob Williams

Boston has one of the best defensive units in the league and it is thanks to the mindset of Rob Williams. 

The shattering news that he has torn his left meniscus leaves a massive gap in the Boston defence, but it will not deter from his ability to win defensive player of the year. 

Williams’ main role has been to nail down on dangerous three-point scorers in the opposition and has an uncanny knack of blocking and poking at the ball. 

His opponents only shoot at a mere 35.5% when matched up against him. 

We will see over the next few weeks just how important the defensive nature of Williams is to this Celtics team.

The post NBA Awards Watch, Wednesday 30th March first appeared on BetDeluxe Tips.

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