The NBA’s MVP discussion is out of control

The NBA MVP Award has been selected annually by a panel of media representatives since the 1980-81 season. The debate among voters, league staff and fans seems more mixed than ever, and yet no race has been decided by less than 39 first-place votes since Steve Nash overtook Shaquille O’Neal in 2004-05. years.

O’Neill will never let he goes, but somehow the discussions around the award seemed thinner and less hostile before the extended stats forced the media to take a path that players and fans weren’t so willing to take. This may have always been the end result of the Information Age, but more and more people seem to believe there is a right or wrong answer, even though the NBA has never set any specific criteria for this award.

Bottom line: MVP talk got out of hand.

Former players-turned-ESPN analysts Kendrick Perkins and JJ Redick have spent the past 24 hours. publicly discussion whether current two-time MVP Nikola Jokic “completes” his 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists per game this season. Here and there it went on, and Jokic made another triple-double, making 11 shots in 28 minutes of a crushing victory. The Denver Nuggets are 24-0 when Jokic has a triple-double.

(Perkins joined last season’s MVP voting when he voted for Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid since he was “first center to lead the league in scoring since Shaq … AND [kept] 76ers afloat during the Ben Simmons disaster” are two reasons that cannot be disputed and cannot be applied at all.)

Is it a coincidence that the last six MVPs have also led the league in player efficiency? This includes, by the way, Russell Westbrook in the 2016-17 season, against whom many of the 32 members of the media who voted for other candidates have since raged harder, mainly due to his weaknesses as a player (high turnover, low shooting percentage and weak protection). ) and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s sixth-place finish that season.

In six years, part of the electorate has stopped vehemently against MVP Westbrook – despite leading OKC to 48 wins since the departure of Kevin Durant, his clutch play and being the first player to average a triple-double. since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62, voters wondering if Jokic should win the award in a season in which he averages a triple-double on the top-placed team, simply because he got the last two MVPs, don’t winning the championship.

12 media representatives voted. against Westbrook in 2017 and For Jokic is on a team with 48 wins and a sixth-place finish last year when the gap between Westbrook and the next-highest PER this season was much wider. Now there’s a chance some of them might vote against Jokic this season when he and his team are better, either out of fatigue or a belief that past playoff success should count towards the regular’s bounty. season.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo easily won back-to-back MVPs in 2019 and 2020 before picking up the top spot at the end of his next season. Jokic and Embiid turned into bona fide candidates that year, and two-time winner Stephen Curry was back in contention, but the narrative shifted away from Antetokounmpo primarily because his Bucks were unimpressed in the playoffs after every MVP campaign.

How can Antetokounmpo be the best player in the world if he can’t even make it out of his own conference? A month later, after Jokic earned his first MVP trophy in a 2021 playoff second-round crush, Antetokounmpo won the championship and became the Finals MVP, and we all agreed that he was once again the best player alive. He then finished well behind Jokic and Embiid in the 2021-22 MVP nomination.

Not only is there no single definition of MVP, but some voters apply their definitions inconsistently. People think too much about it. It’s like the smarter we get at basketball, the dumber the discussion gets.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and fellow Philadelphia 76ers could finish 1-2 in the NBA MVP race for the third straight season.  (US Sports Today)
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and fellow Philadelphia 76ers could finish 1-2 in the NBA MVP race for the third straight season. (US Sports Today)

I understand that since the results of the vote are made public, media debaters rely heavily on analytics as they are the strongest defense. Jokic, who leads the NBA in terms of the most comprehensive statistics, as in the last two seasons, received 77 first-place votes from 100 members of the media polled by ESPN last month. Will secret ballots lead to closer competition than the recent string of lopsided decisions? Not on this basis.

Players tend to consider awe, dominance, and brilliance more often. That’s why A recent The Athletic poll of 101 former players called LeBron James the best current player, why Jason Tatum and Donovan Mitchell both chose Antetokounmpo instead, and why Kyrie Irving’s peers think so highly of him. Will a diversified electorate that includes a committee of players, coaches and executives (those who live and breathe the game at a level no observer can expect) improve the panel? Certainly.

Naturally, fans can gravitate toward emotionality and familiarity, siding with a player they like or know better, whether he plays for their favorite team or is more aesthetically pleasing to look at. The NBA gave fans one collective juried ballot until they gave Derrick Rose a first-place vote in 2021, with the one-time MVP averaging 14.9 points per game in 35 games, mostly off the bench, for New York City. Nix.” I’m not sure there is a way to include fans in the voting process without introducing a higher degree of bias.

Every trend has its drawbacks. Members of the media who don’t want to look zigzag when others zigzag can form a hive mind mentality that doesn’t accept alternative approaches. Many players relied more on personal experience and observation than extensive research. And it’s hard to imagine a series of randomized fan polls ever giving fairly consistent answers, unless votes are counted city by city.

Everything is fine. If MVP voting were an exact science, there would be no discussion around it. What worries me is the inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Use the same criteria every time, whatever they are, and do your homework. You are entitled to your opinion because that’s all MVP is, but let’s be smarter.

Let’s not argue about whether Jokic is in the top five players in the NBA.

If you think the best player on the best team deserves an MVP, reward him every time. If you think the best player alive is more deserving, regardless of performance, keep giving it to him. If you think that the most dominant player of the season is the most deserving, regardless of the team’s success, stick with that opinion. If your method evaluates team performance, stats, and film, keep up the good work. But don’t decide that a player doesn’t deserve a third MVP in a row just because they’ve already won two, their team has lost in past playoffs, or you don’t want to put him in the company of Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird.

And for God’s sake, don’t let us live in a world where everyone is mad at the same time that Westbrook won the 2017 No. 6 team and Jokic won the 2023 No. 1 team. To be consistent, this guy with an average triple-double on the runaway best team in the Western Conference, which also has the highest percentage of hits of anyone who has ever scored 20 points per game, became the league’s most valuable player again.

If you disagree, let me know why. The MVP conversation should be as interesting as it is informative.


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker