Luka Doncic currently leads the NBA in scoring (33.5) and minutes (37.4), is fourth in assists (8.6), and 20th in rebounding (8.8). He's not shooting the three well (31 percent), but other than that he's clearly having a season worthy of MVP consideration a quarter of the way through the year. According to Kendrick Perkins, Doncic is not a top-five MVP candidate because his team is not in the "top tier."
If the playoffs started today, the Dallas Mavericks would not be involved. They're 10-10 and sitting in 11th place in the Western Conference standings. Luckily, there's three-quarters of the season remaining and they're only one game out of sixth place. Heck, they're only 4.5 games out of first place in the West. Who knows where the Mavs will be in four months when people actually start turning in their ballots.
Even if they haven't become one of the top teams in the conference by the end of the regular season, Doncic will still be a serious MVP candidate if he's still doing what he's doing, which he's basically been doing since he came into the league five years ago.
Meanwhile, Perk has Tyrese Haliburton, who is having a good season, fifth on his imaginary ballot. Presumably because the Pacers have a whopping two more wins this season than the Mavericks. I mean, this is a masterful hot take.
However, you only need to look back to last season when Nikola Jokic won his second consecutive MVP award while the Nuggets finished 6th in the West at 48-34 which was the 10th best record in the entire league. The year before Jokic won as the Nuggets finished third in the West. And who can forget Russell Westbrook winning MVP in '16-'17 on a team that went 45-37.
Westbrook nearly made Perkins' point after he won MVP in '16-'17. Westbrook led the NBA in scoring and averaged a triple-double on a team that earned the lost in the first round of the playoffs in five games. It briefly looked like that might never happen again as James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo won the next three MVP awards while playing for teams that finished with the best records in the NBA.
Westbrook looked like a cautionary tale, but voters have clearly moved past team success being the most important thing to consider when determining how valuable a player is in any given season. There is no way a serious media member can discount what Luka is doing this year. Carry on.