NBA Star Power Index: Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker on Scorched Earth; Giannis edges out Joel Embiid in MVP fight

Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of players getting the most buzz in the league. Inclusion on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing — it just means you’re capturing the attention of the NBA world. Nor is it a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order. This column will air weekly throughout the regular season.

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Giannis served 40 plays to the Sixers on Tuesday as the Bucks, who have won 11 of 15 since the All-Star break, moved to the No. 2 seed in the East, one game ahead of Boston and Philadelphia.

Antetokounmpo added 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks to his record. The last of those blocks was a potential game saver as Joel Embiid, after an offensive rebound, had a point-blank layup that would have tied the game with less than two seconds left before Giannis erased it.

Giannis is definitely not going to win MVP, but he has once again been just plain dominating all season. The development of his mid-range game has made him even more deadly, and now that the Bucks aren’t just giving him the ball at the top of the key against a stopped defense waiting to form a wall and asking him to drop head, there’s really no way to stop it or even contain it.

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Going into Tuesday’s game with the Bucks, I wondered how much either of these teams really wanted to win this game. For me, starting the playoffs below the No. 2 seed, which would eliminate Brooklyn as a potential first-round opponent, might be a more advantageous route, although you could argue that losing the advantage of the home ground in the second round would be something. more detrimental to a title race.

Either way, both teams made it clear they wanted to win this game, and now I wonder how much of that had to do with Embiid wanting to make his MVP claim against Giannis Antetokounmpo. Embiid didn’t win the individual game or the match, but he was generally great on his own, finishing with 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

After the loss, Embiid wasn’t happy with the way Doc Rivers structured his minutes, wanting to be on the court at the same time as Giannis, who scored 15 of his 40 points in a five-minute span that Embiid took. sitting between the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. During the period, the Bucks cut Philly’s lead from 10 to four and turned the momentum around decisively.

With the loss, Philly dropped to the No. 4 seed, which currently would mean a first-round matchup with Chicago, coming into play on Wednesday.

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Jokic had 26 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists in a win over the Hornets on Monday, two days after a 35-12-8 performance in a win over the Thunder. Those wins are huge for the Nuggets, who hold a two-game advantage over the No. 7 Timberwolves to stay above the hog line with six games remaining.

Jokic is my MVP. I don’t have a vote, so it doesn’t matter what I think. But that’s my opinion anyway. There are many different reasons why I believe this, but just as a quick overview, check this out.

He’s not bad company and the fact that Jokic is doing it on 65.8% true shots is astounding. The year Westbrook filled out the stat sheet like this (2015-16), he had a 55 TS% and a 48 EFG%. Moreover, Jokic’s 32.7 PER and 13.8 BPM are all-time highs.

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In his first game after more than three months of rehabilitation from a torn UCL right elbow, George led the Clippers from a 25-point hole to defeat the Jazz on Tuesday. George was magnificent, finishing with 34 points, six assists and five steals on 10 of 20 shooting, including 6 of 9 of 3.

The Clippers have a dangerous habit of sinking double digits this season, but no team is better at overcoming deficits to emerge victorious. It’s the 12th time the Clippers have come back from at least 13 to win this season and the fourth time they’ve rallied to at least 24 to win. These two brands lead the league.

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Tatum was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. It’s back-to-back POW awards for Tatum, making him the first player in Celtics history to do so. Tatum has scored over 30 goals in five of his last six games and is shooting an impressive 47% from 3 for the month of March.

Tatum won’t win MVP, but that doesn’t make any of it any less impressive.

Boston is currently the No. 3 seed in the East, and it received relatively good news on Wednesday that Robert Williams could be ready to return in four to six weeks, which could make him eligible somewhere in the second round if the Celtics are capable of ahead.

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Booker was named Western Conference Player of the Week for averaging 37.3 points on 58% shooting, including 43% on 3, over the Suns’ last three games, all of them winners. Phoenix, in fact, won eight straight and secured the No. 1 seed overall.

Over the past month, Booker has bombarded opponents like he was the beneficiary of their life insurance, averaging 30.3 points for the month of March. He went for 49 in a win over the Nuggets on Thursday, then backed that up with 35 in a win over the Sixers on Sunday.

Good luck figuring out where Booker fits in the absolutely packed All-NBA landscape, but he certainly has first-team credentials.

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