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All-Star starters announced, MVP Race check-in and the Nets are netting big points

Seems a little odd to have just had the NBA All-Star game starters announced near the middle of February but that’s where everyone is at in today’s sports world.


While some things are changing, some things are remaining the same. This goes for the faces in the MVP race to the Brooklyn Nets appearing to be the offensive power most fans anticipated.


This week’s NBA weekly wrap is chock full of star power.


ASG starters announced


Though the NBA will not be having an entire All-Star Weekend, the league is doing it best to ensure it can have a very unique All-Star Night.


The event is planned and scheduled for March 7 in Atlanta.


Recently, the league announced its intention to hold the annual Skills Challenge and Three-point Contest during the pregame of the All-Star Game.


In addition, the NBA announced plans to hold the annual Slam Dunk Contest during halftime of the game.


The Western Conference’s pool of players is led by 17-time all-star LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.


He is followed by seven-time all-star Steph Curry of Golden State, five-time all-star Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers, three-time all-star Nikola Jokic of Denver and two-time all-star Luka Doncic of Dallas.


Over in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn Nets’ forward and 11-time all-star Kevin Durant is the leading vote-getter in the first season since returning from a torn Achilles.


He is accompanied by seven-time Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn, five-time all-star Giannis Antetokoumnpo of Milwaukee, four-time all-star Joel Embiid of Philadelphia and three-time all-star Bradley Beal of Washington.


Votes was accounted for by a breakdown of 50 percent fan voting, 25 percent media voting and 25 percent peer voting.


Captains are expected to select their teams Thursday, March 4.


As anticipated, the exciting Elam Ending is back for this year’s all-star game.


Checking in on the MVP Race


Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has entered the rare territory of Hall-of-Famer Michael Jordan as perhaps the best player year-in and year-out in the league, he won’t win the MVP award every season.


While an argument can be made for more hardware in his trophy case, it seems more often than not, more appealing arguments are made for his competitors.

In true media fashion, we’re going to make those other appealing arguments when yet again James may have the best season on paper thus far.


Here’s my top five candidates for this year’s MVP race as it stands today.


5. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

  • 26.6 ppg (10th), 11.1 rpg (10th), 8.5 apg (5th)

Denver aren’t the surprise team anymore as guard Jamal Murray has been relatively held in check outside of his 50-point outburst recently.


However, center Nikola Jokic has appeared to remain unsolvable.


Currently, he has a 30.96 PER which would land his 14th on the all-time list if the season were to end today, only behind Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, LeBron James and Joel Embiid.


4. Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

  • 29.1 ppg (5th), 8.6 rpg, 9.4 apg (4th)

These Dallas Mavericks will only go as far as the health of forward Kristaps Porzingis, who has missed 10 games this season.


Guard Luka Doncic has averaged 27.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 8.8 apg in those games.


Not much more can be said about a team that relies on Doncic for more than 25 percent of its points and over 40 percent of it’s playmaking in terms of assists.


3. Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)

  • 30.0 ppg (3rd), 7.9 apg (10th), Nearly 4.5 made three-pointers per game)

Though he is often called underrated, guard Damian Lillard continues to keep his head down and work. After being snubbed as an all-star starter, Lillard has remained focused with his team sitting in the fifth spot in the West.


Similar to Doncic, Lillard has been without his partner-in-crime for 15 of the team’s 28 games, who accounts for 26.7 ppg.


2. Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)

  • 29.9 ppg (4th), 6.2 apg, 5.4 rpg, 49% FGs, 42% 3pt, 94% FTs)

Fighting for an eighth seed sounds about right for this Golden State Warrior team who is without guard Klay Thompson for the year due to a torn Achilles.


In addition, the team was without forward Draymond Green to begin the year.


However, what was not anticipated was the little to no offensive help guard Steph Curry would get.


Curry is averaging nearly 12 more points per game than his next closest teammate in forward Andrew Wiggins with 17.7 ppg.


His near 30-point scoring mark per game is the highest for Chef Curry since his MVP season in 2016 on top of what could be his third season posting 50-40-90.


  1. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

  • 30.3 ppg (2nd), 54% FGs, 11.3 rpg (8th)

It’s time to win in Philadelphia after the team has brought in head coach Doc Rivers and currently hold the No. 1 spot in the East.


Moreover, their superstar center Joel Embiid has played in 25 of the 31 possible games.


Embiid is first in the league in terms of PER with a 31.78-mark, which would be the third-highest ever.


If he continues on this trend, he will only trail marks set by last year’s Giannis Antetokoumnpo and Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63.


Brooklyn’s just casually burning the nets


The Brooklyn Nets just went 5-0 on their latest West Coast road trip.


Starting in Golden State and ending with a two-game series from the Staples Center, the Nets set the league on notice in a multitude of ways.


In the first two games, Brooklyn had six and seven players score in double-figures respectively.


Early season acquisition James Harden led the team in scoring in three of the five games, reaching a double-double in all of them.


Moreover, he recorded a triple-double against Sacramento.


Guard Kyrie Irving missed the third game of the trip after dropping a combined 63 points in the first two including a 40-point effort against the Kings.


In the last two games of the trip against the Lakers and Clippers, Harden posted a combined 60 points, 16 rebounds and 18 assists.


Looking deeper into the numbers of the road trip, Brooklyn averaged 123.8 points per game.


In addition, four of the five teams that were beat would be in the playoffs if the season were to end today.


And lastly, the team played the last four games of the trip without forward Kevin Durant, who only scored 20 points in his lone game action in his return to Golden State.


The Nets are now 0.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers, who went 2-3 during the week.


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