NBA Awards confirm Jokic, Embiid, Giannis as MVP finalists
New York, New York – Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been announced as the finalists for the 2021-22 NBA MVP award, as was widely expected.
Denver Nuggets center Jokic is the favorite to win the award for a second consecutive year, again beating out Philadelphia 76ers big man Embiid.
Antetokounmpo took the two awards before that and was the NBA Finals MVP last season as he led the Milwaukee Bucks to the title.
Embiid led the league in scoring this year with 30.6 points per game, ahead of Antetokounmpo (29.9), who was second among players to play 58 games or more.
Jokic (27.1) was sixth in those standings and eighth for assists (7.9) but second in rebounds (13.8).
Although neither Devin Booker nor Chris Paul did enough to be considered for the MVP, the league-leading Phoenix Suns got plenty of love in other NBA Awards categories.
Monty Williams is up for Coach of the Year, against the Memphis Grizzlies' Taylor Jenkins and the Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra.
Mikal Bridges is a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, facing the Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart along with three-time winner Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
For Sixth Man of the Year, Cam Johnson faces competition from the Heat's Tyler Herro and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love.
There is also recognition for the much-improved Cavaliers, with two of Love's team-mates up for awards.
Darius Garland averaged 21.7 points, up from 17.4 a year earlier, and is under consideration for Most Improved Player. His year-on-year improvement ranks 16th among players with 58 or more games.
Dejounte Murray (15.7 to 21.1) of the San Antonio Spurs ranks ninth, while the Grizzlies' Ja Morant only played in 57 games but improved from 19.1 to 27.4, which would have put him third.
Garland's Cavaliers team-mate Evan Mobley is a Rookie of the Year finalist, in competition the Detroit Pistons' first overall pick Cade Cunningham and the Toronto Raptors' Scottie Barnes.
The finalists for each annual award were "based on voting results from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters," according to the NBA. "TNT will announce the winner of each award during its coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs."
Cover photo: Collage: USA TODAY Sports