Whenever we reach the midway stage of the NBA season, the annual All-Star game gives professional basketball the chance to showcase the best players. As a celebration of everything that’s great about the sport, the stars of the game are all present, highlighting their skills and talents for everyone to enjoy.
This point in the NBA Regular Season campaign is also an opportunity to look at the current stars, focusing on which players have the potential to be recognized for their performances this year. The NBA Regular Season MVP and the NBA Rookie of the Year are the two top individual awards. Winning either of those prestigious honors will earn a place in the history books, so let’s take a look at which players are tipped for success this year.
NBA 2020/2021 Regular Season MVP
Who was the last player ever to win three consecutive MVP awards? If you can’t answer that question off the top of your head, it’s perhaps not all that surprising. Several players have come close over in recent decades, although legendary Larry Bird was the last player to win three consecutive MVP awards. He did that with the Boston Celtics in 1983/84, 1984/85, and 1985/86.
Nevertheless, we could finally see that remarkable feat matched at long last. Having won the NBA MVP award in 2018/19 and 2019/20, Giannis Antetokounmpo is among the top five contenders this year. The 26-year-old is enjoying another strong season with the Milwaukee Bucks, yet claiming his third title in a row could be difficult.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 7, 2021
Early in March and heading into the midway point of the campaign, LeBron James is currently the NBA 2020/2021 Regular Season MVP betting favorite, priced at +195 odds. As the reigning champions, the LA Lakers are aiming to win their second championship in a row, and while they have a roster packed with stellar talent, there’s absolutely no doubting that LeBron is their most influential player.
“King” James won back-to-back MVP awards in 2008/09 and 2009/10 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then repeated that feat in 2011/12 and 2012/13 with the Miami Heat. A fifth MVP award would be a remarkable achievement for LeBron, putting him level with Bill Russell and Michael Jordan. Meanwhile, the only six-time MVP is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won three with the Milwaukee Bucks and three with the LA Lakers.
NBA 2020/2021 Rookie of the Year
When it comes to the best rookies in the NBA, there’s always plenty of excitement surrounding who will win the top award. More often than not, past winners of the NBA Rookie of the Year award have gone on to win the MVP award within a few years, not to mention enjoying phenomenal careers in the game.
To highlight some examples, after winning the 2003/04 Rookie of the Year award, LeBron James went on to win his first MVP award in 2008/09 with the Cleveland Cavs. After landing the Rookie of the Year award in 2008/09, Derrick Rose quickly won his MVP in 2010/11 at the Chicago Bulls. Kevin Durrant won the 2007/08 rookie award, then the MVP award in 2013/14.
— FOX Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnFSSE) March 7, 2021
While they are all still phenomenal players, there’s a new kid on the block who is already taking the NBA by storm in his debut season with the Charlotte Hornets. After spending last season with the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL in Australia, 19-year-old LaMelo Ball is now smashing records in the NBA, catching the attention of everyone watching.
Already the clear front-runner for the Rookie of the Year, according to CBS Sports, Ball is already miles ahead of his nearest rivals for the awards. By the All-Star break, he is the top rookie for total points (553), rebounds (211), assists (221), and steals (57). In fact, he is the first player in 60 years to lead the rookie charts in all those statistics, at this point in the season. This guy has everything to suggest he will be the biggest star of the next decade.
Winning the NBA Championship with their teams is always the primary objective for most players, although for many professional basketball players, winning individual honors can be a priority. The above are surely the players to watch this season.