This season's race for the NBA MVP award is perhaps the closest it has been over the last several years. Whether it was Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, or Joel Embiid the last couple of seasons, it always seemed like the MVP award was already determined heading into the final month of the regular season. Between Jokic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this year, there is truly no telling how this race may shape up.

Everyone knows what Jokic is capable of doing. A point guard trapped in a big man's body, Jokic has revolutionized the way NBA teams utilize the center position. Now, we are seeing players like Domantas Sabonis and Alperen Sengun become triple-double-like threats because of how the Denver Nuggets turned Jokic into a two-time MVP who can do a little bit of everything.

Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder are the new cats on the block. Many are familiar with Shai's game, as he is now a two-time All-Star who will be making his second straight All-NBA First Team appearance this season, but not many know a whole lot about his young Thunder team. Before the season began, Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder were picked to be a fringe Western Conference play-in team. With roughly 15 games left in the season, Oklahoma City finds itself as the 1-seed in the West.

Whereas Gilgeous-Alexander is the better scorer and currently leads the league in total points scored this season, Jokic is the do-it-all stat-stuffer who has already won this award twice. Voters for this year's awards are truly split on who they are choosing for MVP this season. This was reflected in ClutchPoints' midseason media poll.

With less than four weeks left in the regular season, Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic are practically tied with one another in this race for the NBA MVP award. The only thing that separates them is currently the half-game lead that the Thunder hold over the Nuggets in the standings. At this point, it's not hard to believe that the final standings in the West will be the tiebreaker for this award.

Previous 2023-24 NBA MVP Rankings: Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) handles the ball as Memphis Grizzlies guard John Konchar (46) defends during the first half at FedExForum.
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Rankings: #2

2023-24 season stats: 66 games, 30.9 points, 6.3 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 54.4 FG%, 37.3 3P%

Just this past week, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder took down the Dallas Mavericks 126-119, a game in which the young guard had 31 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Gilgeous-Alexander now has 49 games with at least 30 points this season, which is four more than Mavs star Luka Doncic with 45 such games. Basically, SGA is recording 30 points three times every four games, which is 75 percent of the season.

Some may point to him and say that he is the only true scoring weapon on his team, but Gilgeous-Alexander's numbers aren't inflated whatsoever. He is just a natural scoring machine that breaks defenses apart in order to get to his spot. After all, Shai ranks third in made shots per game and is shooting over 50 percent from the floor. None of his numbers are “empty stats,” as some people like to say for stars on bad teams.

In addition to putting the Thunder at the top of the Western Conference, Gilgeous-Alexander also has a season-long advantage over Jokic and the Nuggets after defeating them three out of four times this year. He leads the league in 30-point games, he leads the league in total points scored, his team is the best in a loaded Western Conference, and he owns the head-to-head record this season. Right now, Gilgeous-Alexander has to be the favorite for his first NBA MVP award.

2. Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets 

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) checks his eye after getting fouled by Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) during the first half at Kaseya Center.
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Rankings: #1

2023-24 season stats: 66 games, 25.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 58.1 FG%, 34.6 3P%

Some low-scoring performances in recent games have definitely caused some eyes to shift from Jokic to Gilgeous-Alexander in the NBA's race for the MVP award. Even though he recorded a 35-point triple-double against the Toronto Raptors and 31 points against the San Antonio Spurs, Jokic's week was highlighted by a 12-point double-double and a 16-point double-double. Unlike Gilgeous-Alexander, who scores in order to win games for the Thunder, Jokic just does whatever his team needs in order to put them in a position to win games.

Perhaps another aspect of Jokic's personality that is deterring him from winning a third MVP award is the fact that he simply does not care. The only thing on the two-time MVP's mind is to get back to the NBA Finals and win back-to-back championships. If he wins another regular season MVP award, the Nuggets center would be unmoved because that's not his ultimate goal anymore.

For some, this definitely leads them to like Gilgeous-Alexander in the NBA's race for MVP simply because he is the new name on the block and a rising star many feel like took that next step in his career. In Jokic's case, he has been playing at this level for years now, which leads to voter fatigue over time.

Still, Jokic has had a marvelous season to this point and can still claim the 1-seed with the Nuggets. Should this happen, it will be hard not to name him MVP for the third time in the last four seasons.

3. Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at American Airlines Center.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Rankings: #3

2023-24 season stats: 59 games, 34.4 points, 9.7 assists, 9.0 rebounds, 49.3 FG%, 38.0 3P%

Luka Doncic continues to do Luka Doncic things when he plays. Like Jokic, he fills the scoreboard with all of his stats, but the most important statistic he impacts is winning. Without Doncic, the Mavs really struggle to score and find their groove. That is exactly what happened against SGA and the Thunder this past week.

However, when Doncic returned to the floor, he registered 37 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals against Jokic and the Nuggets in a huge 107-105 victory on Sunday. At 34.4 points per game, Doncic will finish the year as the league's leading scorer.

When it comes to scoring, nobody has been better than Doncic this season. Well, Joel Embiid was until he suffered a meniscus injury, but that's besides the point here. Doncic has received consideration for MVP in the past, but he's never finished inside the top three. That changes this season, as it would be shocking to see someone else's name come directly behind Jokic's and Gilgeous-Alexander's in the NBA MVP race.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks

 Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) points to the sky following the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Rankings: #4

2023-24 season stats: 64 games, 30.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 61.6 FG%, 29.2 3P%

Much like Jokic, many voters tend to look away from Giannis Antetokounmpo now that he is a two-time MVP and a Finals MVP with the Milwaukee Bucks. As crazy as it may sound, this may just be the best season of Giannis' career.

Even though the Bucks have had their fair share of struggles all season, Antetokounmpo is about to make NBA history. No player in the league has ever averaged at least 30 points per game while shooting 60 percent from the floor. This past week, Giannis increased his shooting percentage by 0.1 percent, and his scoring average has not changed due to his back-to-back 30-point performances against the likes of the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings.

While he did miss Sunday's game against the Phoenix Suns, Antetokounmpo has recorded at least 30 points in four straight games while shooting 59.2 percent from the floor in this span. He has also recorded four straight double-doubles.

Giannis is arguably the most dominant player in the league right now in terms of his complete game. The Bucks currently occupy the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference, and will be looking to make another deep postseason run with The Greek Freak leading the charge.

5. Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) looks on from the bench against the Washington Wizards during the second half of the game at Capital One Arena.
Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Rankings: #5

2023-24 season stats: 64 games, 27.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 47.4 FG%, 37.9 3P%

The Boston Celtics have held the best record in the league for what feels like the entire season. They will finish with the best record in the league when the regular season concludes, thus giving them home-court advantage throughout the entire playoffs. As a result, Jayson Tatum is obviously in the running for MVP this season since he has enjoyed arguably his most efficient season of his career. While his scoring numbers have decreased compared to last season, Tatum's shooting splits and playmaking numbers have increased.

Many have tried to make the argument that Tatum should hear his name closer to the top of the MVP race, but he hasn't necessarily been the most valuable player in this league. Boston has gone 2-1 in three games without Tatum, and he is not consistently his team's top option like the others on this list are.

Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick White are all major reasons why the Celtics have been able to find success this season. Tatum may be the best overall talent in Boston, but he is not the sole reason his team is the 1-seed in the East, like Gilgeous-Alexander is with the Thunder in the No. 1 spot out West.

This should be the second straight season in which Tatum finishes inside the Top 5 for NBA MVP.

Just missing the cut

6. Anthony Edwards – Minnesota Timberwolves (Ranked No. 7 last week)

7. Domantas Sabonis – Sacramento Kings (Ranked No. 6 last week)

8. Jalen Brunson – New York Knicks (Ranked No. 10 last week)

9. Kevin Durant – Phoenix Suns (Ranked No. 9 last week)

10. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors (Unranked last week)