NBA

2020-21 NBA MVP Ladder: Chris Paul and Stephen Curry crack the top five as the season draws to a close

It's time to check in on the MVP race for (perhaps) the last time before the regular season comes to a close.

As always, this was a collaborative effort between four members of our NBA.com Staff: Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay), Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21), Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) and myself (@crabdribbles). We each sent in our top-five for MVP right now and used a point system - one point for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote, three points for a third-place vote and so on - to come up with the following list.

If you want to check out our previous MVP ladders, click here for the first one of the season, here for the second one, here for the third one and here for the fourth one.

As for the fifth one, let's get to it.

Honourable mention

Because it wouldn't be an MVP ladder without some honourable mentions, some players who earned or deserve consideration:

T-4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Highest rank: 4

Lowest rank: 5

Curry cracks the top five on the strength of his play in the month of April. Over 15 games, he averaged 37.3 points, 6.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds on 51.8 percent shooting from the field and 46.6 percent (!) from 3-point range. His 96 triples are the most anyone has ever made in a calendar month.

The one thing holding Curry back from being higher on this ladder is Golden State's record. Following Thursday's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors sit in 10th place in the Western Conference, fighting for a spot in the Play-In Tournament.

T-4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Highest rank: 4

Lowest rank: 5

Antetokounmpo's numbers across the board are almost identical to last season, but the way in which he's doing it is slightly different. An encouraging development for the Bucks: Antetokounmpo has made almost as many field goals from midrange through 53 games this season (41) than he did in 63 games last season (45). He's converting them at a 35.0 percent clip, but getting more comfortable from that distance could pay off in a big way for the Bucks in the playoffs.

3. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

Highest rank: 3

Lowest rank: 3

Paul has been on the outside looking in on our MVP ladder for much of the season.

Paul's averages of 16.2 points, 8.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game don't pop in the same way as other players on this list do, but he's had a tremendous impact on the Suns, leading them to the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10. The Suns are also in the mix for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, trailing the Utah Jazz by only one game as of this writing.

What Paul is doing in his age 35 season is nothing short of remarkable.

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Highest rank: 2

Lowest rank: 3

Embiid missing time with a knee injury kept him out of our last MVP ladder, but he's been a force since returning to the lineup, averaging 28.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game on 48.0 percent shooting from the field over his last 12 games. While a four-game losing streak during that stretch paved the way for the Nets to leapfrog the 76ers in the standings, Philadelphia now has the easiest remaining schedule and Brooklyn has the 10th-hardest. The race for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed is far from over.

1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Highest rank: 1

Lowest rank: 1

Jamal Murray going down with a season-ending ACL tear is a huge blow to Denver's title odds, but Jokic has helped keep the Nuggets going by continuing his MVP level of play.

In the nine games the Nuggets have been without Murray, Jokic has averaged 26.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks on .587/.393/.860 shooting splits. The Nuggets are 8-1 during that stretch, strengthening their grip on the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

As competitive as the MVP race has been this season, our NBA.com Staff is in agreement that Jokic is the clear front-runner heading into the final stretch.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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