Will Zion Williamson be the first of these 5 players to win MVP?

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket as New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) defends Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket as New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) defends Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Pelicans are hoping to get a full, healthy season out of Zion Williamson, and if they do, the sky is the limit for both him and the team.

Zion Williamson is among many talented young players who represent the next era of MVP candidates in the NBA. As guys like LeBron James and Stephen Curry start to get a little older (though still no sign of getting any worse) some of these younger guys are going to start to supplant them in the MVP voting.

We aren’t quite there yet, but this season could be the tipping point, as several young players are going to make their case for MVP, which is reflected in the early MVP odds.

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If you look at the recent ESPN rankings of the top-100 players, there are five guys under the age of 25 who make up the next group of potential MVPs. Here they are, along with their spots on the list:

  • Zion Williamson (40)
  • Trae Young (16)
  • Ja Morant (9)
  • Jayson Tatum (7)
  • Luka Doncic (3)

So which one of these five players will be the first to win an MVP? They each have a case.

The case for Zion Williamson for MVP

Let’s start with Zion, who was the lowest ranked of these players. Clearly Zion is better than the 40th-best player in the NBA when he is healthy, so this ranking is a reflection that he hasn’t been. Health is really the key issue with Zion, as he has all of the talent to win an MVP.

He’s a dominant and efficient scorer who could lead the league in scoring as soon as this season. If he improves on defense and the Pelicans make a run at the Western Conference, there is a good chance Zion will be seen as the biggest reason, which could lead to him taking home some hardware.

I think he needs one more full season to really be considered, but he’s also a very popular player who is going to get plenty of attention this season.

The case for Trae Young for MVP

Of these five, I think Young is the least-likely to win an MVP, mostly because he is a terrible defender. The only way it happens is if he leads the league in scoring (possible) and the Hawks are a top-2 seed in the Eastern Conference (less possible).

The case for Ja Morant for MVP

Like Zion Williamson, Morant’s chances will depend on health. He was a borderline MVP candidate last season because of his team’s success, but probably missed too many games to get serious consideration, especially when his team actually had a higher winning percentage without him. For Ja to win he’d have to play more than 57 games and the Grizzlies would probably have to be near the top of the West again with Morant putting up monster stats all season.

The case for Jayson Tatum for MVP

I think the last two guys have the best case. Tatum is a gifted two-way player who just made first-team All-NBA last season, so he is already on the MVP radar.

His biggest case is that his team will probably be the best on this list, so if the Celtics win the East next season, Tatum is going to get some votes. His stellar two-way play combined with the Celtics being the East’s best team would possibly get him there next season.

The case for Luka Doncic for MVP

If it just comes down to individual stats, than Doncic is clearly the frontrunner here, as he continues to put up some of the best all-around numbers in the league while doing everything for his team.

But his team might not be very good, as they didn’t really improve this offseason, trading out Jalen Brunson for Christian Wood. But we’ve seen Nikola Jokic take home the MVP two years in a row even though his teams were lower in the standings than Luka’s.

If Luka drags another mediocre team to the 4-seed this season, he’s almost a lock to win his first MVP, but if the Mavericks fall to the fringes or even out of the playoffs, we could see Tatum, Morant or even Zion Williamson take home the award if their teams are more successful.

The next generation of NBA superstars is here and odds are that one of these five players is going to win an MVP award soon.

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