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Sports Then and Now

NBA – Our Favorites for the MVP 2020 Title

Posted on December 11, 2019 by Sarah Whitman

With the 2019/20 NBA season well underway, it is time to focus on one of the most debated topics each season: the Most Valuable Player trophy. While the NBA awards several trophies every year, none is as fiercely contested and coveted as the MVP. So, let’s take a look at its history and how it all works, and more importantly, at our 2019/20 favorites.  

Whats the MVP trophy?

The MVP trophy has existed since 1956 and the coronation of Bob Pettit, then a leading player for the Saint-Louis Hawks. It rewards the player who, both individually and collectively, has achieved the most solid season. Rewarded each year, it has allowed many players to build their respective legends. 

Thus, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar (formerly Lewis Alcindor) was appointed MVP six times during his extensive career. That is the record. A record that, let’s be sure, is not about to be equaled. Behind Jabbar are Bill Russell and Michael Jordan, who have each lifted the Maurice Podoloff trophy five times. Finally, there are Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James, with four titles. 

While some NBA awards are not expressly subject to tacit rules (e.g. Rookie Of the Year), this is clearly not the case with the MVP. Although informal, there are rules governing the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. If we look at the ranking over the past 50 years, there is a clear trend. The MVP is thus generally the first offensive option of his team. In other words, he scores tirelessly. Since 1974, only two players have been named Most Valuable Player without scoring an average of at least 20 points: Bill Walton in 1978 (18.9 points) and Steve Nash in 2005 and 2006 (15.5 and 18.8 points).

The second criterion complements the first: the MVP is a statistical machine. Of course, this criterion is regrettable and could (should?) be reconsidered. As a result, some players who are key to their team, but who are not (yet) statistical monsters, have no chance of winning the trophy. Here we could debate the case of Ben Simmons.

But beware of hasty conclusions! Of course, individual statistics are taken into account when it comes to awarding an individual trophy. However, the player who makes huge statistics in a team that does not win a game (e.g.: Dominique Wilkins or Devin Booker) will not receive a single vote either. Thus, to be eligible for election, the player must not only be individually outstanding. He must also be able to lead his team to the top of his conference.

To better illustrate the above rules, let us present some MVP statistics since 1974. On average, the MVP of the season plays 38 minutes per game and scores 26.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks. As a result of these tacit rules, few players can claim this coveted title. But now, without further ado, we are giving you our top 5 in the 2019/20 MVP race.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (25, Milwaukee Bucks)

Defending champion, the “Greek Freak” is aiming for a double this season, which is not so frequent in the history of the MVP trophy. Given the solidity of the Bucks’ system around him and that the team is currently leading the Eastern Conference, the power forward is perfectly capable of achieving this objective.

James Harden (30, Houston Rockets)

Despite increasingly crazy statistics (36.1 points on average last season), the 2018 MVP lost its trophy to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Vexed by his second place, the bearded left-handed man intends to recover it this season. He currently tops the leader board of individual statistics.

Anthony Davis (26, Los Angeles Lakers)

After having already tried to recruit him last season, the Lakers finally managed to get Anthony Davis this season. Often stealing the show from his new teammate, LeBron James, the former Pelican already managed to score 40 points and 20 rebounds in under 30 minutes this season. A first in NBA history.

LeBron James (34, Los Angeles Lakers)

After a first year wasted by a groin injury, the King is finally ready to bring the Lakers back among the contenders for the ring. With Anthony Davis by his side, the veteran of this list has successfully led the L.A. team to the top of the Western Conference so far.

Luka Doncic (20, Dallas Mavericks)

The Slovenian prodigy amazed last season in his debut with the Mavs. He is yet again making headlines. For instance, when he broke Jordan’s record of 27 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. The talent of the 2019 Rookie Of the Year seems limitless, giving him a spot in the big boys club.

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