• Michael Austin

2020 Darkhorse MVP Candidates

USA Today

In this upcoming season, there is much speculation about who next year’s MVP will be. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo are all expected to make a run at the coveted award, along with many other of the NBA’s usual suspects. Every now and then, a player comes out of nowhere to win the award, surprising fans and basketball analysts alike. With the upcoming season having more parity than the NBA has had in years, now is the prime opportunity for an outsider to seize the moment. Here are some stars likely to make some noise next year and possibly take home the MVP award.

Kemba Walker

Many fans have quickly forgotten, Kemba had an amazing year last season and was an early contender for MVP. His supporting cast with the Hornets was severely lacking. With every opponent able to key in on Walker, it became much more difficult for him to put up MVP numbers as the season went on.

Boston is the best team Kemba has ever been on. Help defenders will have less of an opportunity to slow him down, leading to an easier time for him on the offensive end.

Isaiah Thomas was third in MVP voting his last year with the Celtics. Brad Stevens knows how to maximize the skill set of an undersized guard. Many would say that Walker is a better version of Thomas, and given the same advantages of a Brad Stevens system could put up huge numbers and be one of the best players in the league.

Donovan Mitchell


The Utah Jazz are poised to make a championship run this season. Although they have no superstars, they have fully upgraded a roster that beforehand was a tough playoff matchup. They have the depth and veteran leadership that could guide them to high levels of regular season success as well.

Conceivably, the Jazz could be one of the winningest teams in the West. Donovan Mitchell took a slight step back last year (as many rookies do in their second season) but is poised to take the next step towards superstardom. With Mike Conley as his backcourt mentor, it is very likely that Mitchell’s game could take another step forward. Being the best player on the best team could give him an outside chance to win the award.

Blake Griffin


During the first 30 games or so last season, Blake Griffin was playing like a top five player. Before being traded two season ago, there were also rumblings he could make an MVP run. Playing in Detroit has put him seriously under the radar.

Many voters take regular season success into account for this award. While the Pistons will likely make the playoffs, they don’t quite have the players to be a top regular season team in the eastern conference. That being said, they did add a few key pieces in the offseason, and could be moving Reggie Jackson for an upgrade at the wing position.

In both of the last two seasons what derailed Blake’s MVP odds were his health. If he can just stay healthy for a full season, there’s a good chance he could compete for the coveted regular season award.

Damion Lillard


Lillard has shown us he can be the best point guard in the NBA. He is the only player in NBA history to hit two series-clinching buzzer beaters in the playoffs. The guy is as clutch as they come. He’s also shown he can put up huge numbers and sustain those numbers over a long season.

The Blazer’s front office has a lot of faith in their team. Although past rumors have suggested that they would break things up, they have kept their core together, which continues to improve. Many top analysts thought that Portland could have won the title this past season. There’s a chance they could do it this year.

Lillard is quickly becoming an NBA legend. His playoff performances over the last few seasons have been absolutely sensational. There are only two more accolades he needs to fully cement his legacy. An NBA championship and an MVP. There is a good chance he could go for both this season.

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