The race for the 2023-24 NBA MVP has drastically changed over the course of the last several weeks. Philadelphia 76ers center and reigning league MVP Joel Embiid was once again the favorite for this award, but injuries have resulted in him becoming ineligible due to the new 65-game minimum rule. There are a few other key names, such as Tyrese Haliburton, who could wind up being unable to receive end-of-season awards and honors due to injuries. However, two players who will be eligible and in the running for the NBA's MVP award through the remainder of the season are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nikola Jokic.

Last season proved to be a breakout year for Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder, as he made his first All-Star Game appearance while leading his team to the play-in tournament. Now, the 25-year-old guard has taken yet another step in his career, this time towards being a true superstar after recently starting in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. As for Jokic, this has been yet another spectacular season for the two-time MVP. Nearly averaging a triple-double on the year, the Denver Nuggets big man has his team in a position to contend for back-to-back championships.

Although they are viewed as the two most likely candidates for MVP, there is no telling as to what could happen the rest of the season coming out of the All-Star break. In fact, there may just be another prime MVP candidate to keep a close eye on in the Western Conference.

In the midst of the NBA All-Star break, ClutchPoints conducted a poll featuring media members from around the country, some of whom are official voters the league uses to determine the winner of their end-of-season awards. Some cover the league at large, while others cover individual teams. Nonetheless, each media member was asked a variety of questions pertaining to the major awards and the 2024 NBA Finals.

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In terms of who the media believes will win this season's MVP award, Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic find themselves as the two most prominent answers. The problem is that both players received the same amount of votes in the media poll, leading to more question marks about who will actually walk away with this award when all is said and done.

Below are the results from the voting that took place during the All-Star break for the 2023-24 NBA Most Valuable Player.

ClutchPoints 2023-24 NBA Most Valuable Player Media Poll results

1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder) – 43.3%

1. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) – 43.3%

2. Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) – 13.3%

NOTE: No other players received consideration for MVP.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander vs. Nikola Jokic for MVP

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots the ball over Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the fourth quarter at Ball Arena.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When you look at the stats, very little separates Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic. They have both made a tremendous impact regarding the success of their respective teams' offenses, and they each lead the league in different categories. Whereas Gilgeous-Alexander leads all players in 30-point games this season, according to StatMuse, Jokic's advanced statistics, such as plus/minus and player efficiency rating, are the best in the NBA. The Thunder guard also ranks second in scoring compared to the Nuggets big man being second in triple-doubles.

As things stand right now coming out of the All-Star break, the Thunder are 37-17 overall. The Nuggets find themselves at 36-19 on the season. Oklahoma City has also taken three of the four games these two teams have played this year.

There is truly no wrong answer when voting between Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic right now. Both players are extremely talented, and they are equally important to their team's overall success. However, SGA may hold a little bit more weight over Jokic in this race right now due to the fact that the Serbian big man has already claimed this award twice before. Even though this shouldn't matter pertaining to the season at hand, Gilgeous-Alexander's big year may just be the difference, especially since nobody viewed the Thunder as real contenders entering the year.

In the media vote, many felt this was regarding Gilgeous-Alexander and the season he has been having. The other half of voters who cast Jokic as their pick for MVP are once again backing the numbers and advanced statistics, which usually point in the direction of where the MVP award is going.

At this point, with all 30 teams coming out of the All-Star break, it seems like it is too early to truly name the NBA's MVP this season. Availability will obviously play a factor in who earns this award, as will overall team success. Whichever team ends up with the better record at the end of the season may very well see their star be named MVP.

Compared to years past, this has a chance to be one of the closest MVP races we have seen in the NBA simply because there is no standout candidate. A few years ago, Giannis Antetokounmpo was clearly the best player, given his numbers and the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the league. For Jokic, his triple-double-like numbers and putting the Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference meant something. Just last season, Embiid led the league in scoring and set a variety of new scoring records as a center.

This season, we have seen much of the same from Jokic, as well as the rise of Gilgeous-Alexander. Whether or not voters side with the two-time MVP or the newcomer is still an ongoing debate, as reflected by the media vote at the All-Star break.

Luka Doncic's chances in the MVP race

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second quarter at Ball Arena.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

All the noise surrounding MVP conversations is about Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic. Obviously, these are the two front-runners for the award, and they have stood out all season long. While Luka Doncic has missed eight games for the Dallas Mavericks, he has perhaps made himself the dark horse in this year's MVP race due to the fact that nobody has paid attention to Dallas.

The 24-year-old currently leads the league in scoring, and we can't forget that Luka dropped 73 points in a game on January 26, the most points scored by any player in a game this season. In total, he is averaging 34.2 points, 9.5 assists, and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from three-point range.

There really isn't anything Doncic can't do on offense, and prior to the All-Star break, he was leading the Mavs to the best win streak in the league. When play resumes on Thursday night, the Mavericks will be looking to claim a huge win over the Phoenix Suns, which would mark their seventh consecutive victory and push them ahead of the Suns for the 5-seed in the Western Conference.

In the span of a couple of weeks, Dallas has jumped from a fringe play-in team to one that can actually make noise in the West over the final stretch run of the season. Should Doncic be able to put the Mavs in a position next to the Nuggets and Thunder in the standings, his candidacy for MVP will become much louder.

While he only received a small portion of the media vote at the All-Star break, it is clear to see that Doncic is still on the minds of voters. Luka is capable of filling up the charts every game he plays, as well as leading all players in scoring in any given game. With matchups against both Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic to come during the back half of the season, Doncic certainly has a chance to sneak ahead and get a grasp on the NBA MVP award.