Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic of Denver, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo of reigning champion Milwaukee were named 2021-22 NBA MVP finalists by the league on Sunday.
The trio of global superstar big men have their clubs in contention for an NBA crown in the playoffs, which began this weekend.
Cameroonian star Embiid sparked the 76ers to an opening victory over Toronto while Serbian Jokic led the Nuggets in their opening loss to Golden State and Greek star Antetokounmpo, the 2019 and 2020 MVP, leads Milwaukee against Chicago in the opening round.
Three finalists were named for six annual awards based upon results from a global media panel, with winners to be announced during the NBA playoffs.
NBA Coach of the Year finalists include Taylor Jenkins of Memphis, Erik Spoelstra of Eastern Conference top seeds Miami and Monty Williams of the Western Conference top seeds and overall NBA-leading Phoenix Suns.
The NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year finalists include Utah’s Rudy Gobert, a French center who won the award in 2018, 2019 and 2021, Boston’s Marcus Smart and Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges.
Memphis star guard Ja Morant was among the finalists for the NBA Most Improved Player award, joined by Cleveland’s Darius Garland and San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray.
Finalists for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, for the top reserve player, include Miami’s Tyler Herro, Phoenix’s Cam Johnson and Cleveland’s Kevin Love.
NBA Rookie of the Year finalists include Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, Detroit’s Cade Cunningham and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley.