NBA MVP rankings: With Joel Embiid out of running there are multiple deserving candidates

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is officially eliminated from NBA MVP race because he won’t play in the 65 games requires for eligibility to win the award.

That’s a new rule put in place this season to incentivize games played and to cut down on games missed for general rest without a sufficient reason.

With that said, Embiid, who will end up missing at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing a knee procedure, wouldn’t have won the award even without that rule. Voters would have recognized he didn’t play enough games to warrant consideration.

While Embiid led the MVP race before he was sidelined, his exclusion from winning has opened the field.

There are probably three players who share the frontrunner label, but there are others who could make a run at the award based on how they and their teams finish the final two months of the 2023-24 regular season.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander smiles after scoring against the Sacramento Kings during at Paycom Center.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander smiles after scoring against the Sacramento Kings during at Paycom Center.

FYI: This list is deep to acknowledge the deserving candidates.

Here are our NBA MVP rankings:

10. (tie) Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard

2023-24 stats: 24.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.7 spg, 52.7% FG, 45.3% 3PT, 89.1% FT

Clippers record: 36-17

He’s probably on the edge of the discussion but the remarkable consistency can’t be ignored.

10. (tie) New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson

2023-24 stats: 27.6 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.8 rpg, 48.3% FG, 41.1% 3PT, 83.5% FT

Knicks record: 33-22

An amazing story of hard work and perseverance.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards

2023-24 stats: 26.3 ppg, 5.3 apg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, 47.1% FG, 38.6% 3PT, 84.1% FT

Timberwolves record: 39-16

Two-way player who has emerged as one of the best guards in the NBA, and Edwards has Minnesota atop the West.

8. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker

2023-24 stats: 27.5 ppg, 7.0 apg, 4.6 rpg, 50% FG, 37.9% 3PT, 87% FT

Suns record: 33-22

Booker’s game is underrated and deserves to be part of this conversation.

7. Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant

2023-24 stats: 28.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.7 apg, 1.3 bpg, 53.8% FG, 44.3% 3PT, 87.1% FT

Suns record: 33-22

One of the all-time greats putting up MVP-caliber stats at 35 years old.

6. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo

2023-24 stats: 30.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.1 bpg, 61.6% FG, 25.5% 3PT, 65.3% FT

Bucks record: 35-21

The Bucks are a little wayward right now but Antetokounmpo still performs at an MVP level.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell

2023-24 stats: 28.4 ppg, 6.3 apg, 5.4 rpg, 1.9 spg, 47.3% FG, 36.1% 3PT, 86.4% FT

Cavaliers record: 36-17

Who’s paying attention to what Mitchell and the Cavs are doing? If you're not, start now.

4. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum

2023-24 stats: 27.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.8 agp, 1.0 spg, 47.5% FG, 36.3% 3PT, 82.4% FT

Celtics record: 43-12

Best player on the best team should be on this list.

3. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic

2023-24 stats: 34.2 ppg, 9.5 apg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 spg, 49.2% FG, 37.5% 3PT, 77.7% FT

Mavericks record: 32-23

In his sixth season, Doncic, 24, is having his best season and moving closer to winning the award.

2. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic

2023-24 stats: 26.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 8.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 57.7% FG, 35.2% 3PT, 81.3% FT

Nuggets record: 36-19

He has two MVPs and it’s rare to win a third, but Jokic is great enough to belong in that rare group of players who have won at least three MVPs.

1. Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

2023-24 stats: 31.1 ppg, 6.5 apg, 5.5 rpg, 2.2 spg, 54.6% FG, 37.1% 3PT, 88.3% FT

Thunder record: 37-17

A special season from Gilgeous-Alexander. Just three players have had a season where they averaged at least 30 points, six assists and five rebounds and shot at least 50% from the field.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA MVP rankings: Joel Embiid eliminated but many deserving candidates