Three weeks into the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the action has been exciting, to say the least.
The shortened 72-game season and the ensuing first round have given us a field of eight teams in the Conference Semifinals which includes five franchises that have never won an NBA title.
There are teams led by the next generation of stars, a group including the likes of Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Devin Booker but there are also the playoff regulars in Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, a pair of two-time Finals MVPs, who are putting on a show.
Three weeks into the 2021 postseason, who has been the MVP so far? Our NBA.com Staff discusses and shares their picks.
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Donovan Mitchell.
There are plenty of worthy names from the teams still in the 2021 postseason but I've got to go with Donovan Mitchell.
It's difficult to eclipse what he did in the seven-game playoff run in the bubble last year, where he posted averages of 36.3 points and 4.9 assists on shooting splits of 52.9 percent from the field, 51.6 percent from beyond the arc and 94.8 percent from the free-throw line, and yet Mitchell is doing just that these playoffs.
After Mitchell missed Game 1 of the opening round, the Jazz are a perfect 6-0 since his return.
When he's on the floor, he's been instant offence, scoring on an average of 32.7 points in 32.6 minutes through six games - he's the only player in the top 10 scorer in these playoffs to average more points than minutes.
He's doing so on very respectable shooting splits of 48.2 percent from the field, 41.8 percent from beyond the arc and 87.8 percent from the free-throw line. Thus, helping the Jazz outscore their opponents by an average of 8.8 points when he's on the floor.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): After some deep thought, Kevin Durant gets the nod from me.
Remember in 2019, when he said "I'm Kevin Durant. Y'all know who I am?" Yeah, KD is back on that level.
Through his first eight playoff games, Durant is averaging 31.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 52.4 percent from the field, 47.8 percent from deep and 90.3 percent from the free-throw line. He's Mr. 50-40-90 … and he's scoring nearly 32 a game while doing it.
As NBA.com's Kyle Irving recently said, KD is back to being the most unguardable player in the league. And right now, as I write this, he's the best player in the league, too.
When you talk about value, Durant has been a major reason that the Nets are still impossible to guard, even after James Harden went down 43 seconds into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Teams are draping Durant defensively and it doesn't matter.
90% of Kevin Durant's threes this playoffs have been contested (highest among all players).- StatMuse (@statmuse) June 8, 2021
He is shooting 50% on those threes.
Literally unguardable. pic.twitter.com/hWxcgo3MuJ
His ability to create for himself and others keeps the ball moving to spread the offensive wealth for Brooklyn's supporting cast to make its presence felt.
KD is my postseason MVP and he soon could be adding a third Finals MVP to his name.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): It's been Devin Booker for me. Not only did he have to go toe-to-toe with the defending champions in the first round, but he also had to carry an even heavier load with Chris Paul compromised due to injury.
Booker has elevated his game to another level in the playoffs and honestly, we should've seen it coming. We're all aware that the Suns went 8-0 in the bubble last year, just narrowly missing the Play-In Game, but let's not forget that Booker was incredible and might have won the Bubble MVP had they made it.
He finished the Bubble averaging 30.5 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 50.3 percent from the field in the eight games Phoenix played.
Devin. Booker. 😤- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 8, 2021
Suns on a 16-0 run 😳
So it should be no surprise that he's been balling the way he has so far in the playoffs. Book is putting up 27.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 49.4 percent from the field, 39.6 percent from 3-point range and 91.8 percent from the free-throw line. In case you missed it, that's almost 50-40-90.
CP3 is looking healthier by the game, which should help the Suns go ever deeper into the playoffs, but what Booker did in the first round against the Lakers to give his team a chance and what he's doing now in the second round against the Nuggets makes him my MVP of the playoffs so far.
He's been great and if this is the floor, we really have no idea what the ceiling will be.
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): The Clippers currently find themselves right back in an 0-2 hole against the Utah Jazz.
They were also in the same situation in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks and one man single handedly dragged them out of it.
Watching Kawhi Leonard this postseason has been a reminder that his best puts him right in the conversation for the top player in the world.
In seven games against Dallas, Leonard averaged 32.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists on absurd .612/.425/.898 shooting splits.
In Game 6 with the Clippers trailing 3-2 and on the road, Leonard piled on 45 points on 18-for-25 shooting in arguably the best individual performance of the postseason thus far.
Kawhi (45 PTS) TOOK OVER tonight 😤- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 5, 2021
Clippers force Game 7 pic.twitter.com/qkq3fZSy2K
Kawhi is yet to hit those levels in the second round, but the Clippers will need him to if they are to again make the long road back after losing the first two games.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): My gut says Kevin Durant for all the reasons Gil mentioned, but it's a close one between him and Joel Embiid for me.
In the first three games of Philadelphia's first-round series with the Washington Wizards, Embiid averaged 29.3 points and 7.0 rebounds on .674/.545/.870 shooting splits. Of course, he then suffered a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in Game 4 that kept him out of Game 5, but you wouldn't know that he's battling through an injury based on the way he's playing against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round.
In Game 1, Embiid scored a playoff career-high 39 points in a four-point loss. He followed that up with a playoff career-high 40 points in a Game 2 win. He then helped the 76ers regain homecourt advantage in Game 3 with a near triple-double of 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
27 PTS | 8 AST | 3 BLK@JoelEmbiid continues to be dominant.- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 12, 2021
📹 presented by @IBX pic.twitter.com/65ixQGu2V7
Embiid is now up to 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists on .580/.417/.838 shooting splits in these playoffs. He's also been a force defensively, anchoring the league's fourth-most efficient defence.
You can argue that the 76ers have had an easier path to this point than some other teams, but that shouldn't take away from how dominant Embiid has been on both ends.
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