Jusuf Nurkic: Babo is THE MVP!!! @Dame_Lillard

Jusuf Nurkic: Babo is THE MVP!!! @Dame_Lillard

More on MVP Race

As we cross the halfway point of the NBA season, we are set up for what should be the most raucous and divisive MVP race since Russell Westbrook's win in 2017 -- and one of the most unusual in NBA history. A lot of voters -- this one included, as I have an official ballot -- try to compartmentalize by considering only the discrete 82 games (or now 72) of each season. We give the award every season; it is for that specific season. What happened last season shouldn't factor in. What might happen in the playoffs is irrelevant.
The discourse surrounding last year's top two finishers -- the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James -- was primed to get messy and interesting and maybe a little edgy in the media even before Harden and two behemoth centers crashed the MVP race. Antetokounmpo has won the past two MVPs, outpointing James easily last season. Antetokounmpo's statistical case was almost unassailable -- at least according to almost every publicly available statistic. He also won Defensive Player of the Year. The Bucks finished with the best record in the NBA.
As our Brian Windhorst noted last month, James has not won MVP since 2013. You can explain away each individual season. I've had an official ballot in every season starting in 2013-14, and have not voted James as MVP in any of them. At the time, each vote felt fine -- close in some seasons, but fine. I don't regret any of them now. In totality, it still seems undeniably stupid that that guy we all recognize as the best player alive has not won MVP in eight years. It just does.
The Lakers are plus-9.1 per 100 possessions with James on the floor, and minus-4.4 when he rests -- the second-fattest on-off gap among the major candidates, trailing only Embiid. That sustained during the Lakers' slide without Anthony Davis; the Lakers are plus-20 with James on the floor since Davis went on the shelf, and minus-31 with James on the bench, per NBA.com By historical standards, James is having an MVP-level season -- just not a no-brainer MVP season. As of now, it would rank midtier among all 65 prior NBA MVP seasons: almost exactly in the middle in points per game, 49th in Player Efficiency Rating, 61st in win shares per 48 minutes.
A similar sentiment may help James in this season's voting. Harden is the "new team" guy -- the Garnett/Barkley/Nash of this season's race. But the barrier to winning his second MVP should be very high for Harden considering the nature of his exit from the Houston Rockets. The eight games he played there constitute 11% of this season -- a non-trivial share. They will constitute an even greater percentage of Harden's individual season, because he has missed a few games. He put up numbers in those eight games, but if you watched them, you know Harden was disengaged. Opponents outscored the Rockets by 6.6 points per 100 possessions with Harden on the floor during his final Houston stretch -- and won the minutes Harden rested by almost the same amount, per NBA.com. You can't erase that from his candidacy for an award based on play in this particular season.
The Nets have outscored opponents by six points per 100 possessions with Harden on the floor -- good, but not incredible. They are about even in the 308 minutes Harden has played without both Irving and Durant, according to NBA.com. Harden has done a nice job carrying Brooklyn bench units. Steve Nash has entrusted Harden with the most solo minutes among his three stars, and Harden is maybe the best equipped among them to thrive in those situations.
Harden has been brilliant as a Net. He's already second in franchise history in triple-doubles, which is both amazing and a little funny. Someday, the voting body might buck precedent and award MVP to someone traded in-season. I'm skeptical Harden is or should be that player. Just getting on the ballot is going to be hard -- for Harden, Lillard, Curry, and others. Everything will change if Durant continues to miss major time, or if Irving does -- and Harden lifts the Nets. Even then, Harden winning seems a stretch given what Jokic, Embiid, and James are doing. With or without Harden as a serious candidate, the next two months figure to give us a rollicking MVP debate.
StatMuse: Should Giannis be in the MVP conversation? - More PPG than Jokic - More RPG than Embiid - Higher FG% than Durant - Higher eFG% than Harden - Higher TS% than Lillard - Higher PER than LeBron He has the highest +/- out of all the above players. pic.twitter.com/1G2RdIOZ1I
The Utah Jazz have the best record in the NBA at 27-7 and yet when it comes to MVP, neither Donovan Mitchell nor Rudy Gobert are given much consideration. Jordan Clarkson, the clear front-runner for the Sixth Man of the Year award, is the latest guest on the “Posted Up with Chris Haynes” podcast. The 28-year-old guard is averaging a career-high in points (18.1) and shooting 37.1% from behind the arc.
In this episode, he discussed the two stars being overlooked for MVP and how the team is unbothered by not receiving acknowledgment. “It doesn’t come up but we definitely praise [Mitchell and Gobert] saying, ‘Yo, you should be in that NBA conversation’ and stuff like that,” Clarkson said on the “Posted Up” pod. “That’s the only conversation that comes out of that. But in terms of worrying about if we’re getting noticed or any of that, I don’t think any of that really seeps into any of our heads. We’re kind of just focused on one thing and that’s winning games and keeping this thing rolling. “I don’t see why they wouldn’t be in the conversation, but hey, it is what it is. We’re just trying to prove people wrong and get better. That’s it.”
The Lakers swoon has led some, including The Athletic’s Sam Amick, to consider the ramifications a month without Davis might have on James’ bid for a fifth NBA Most Valuable Player award. “Put it to you like this,” Davis said. “I know that that man does not care about MVP awards. He cares about championships. So if he loses the MVP and wins the championship like he did last year, he doesn’t care. So that’s what his mindset is, he’s not focused on MVPs. He’s focused on Finals MVPs.”
Tim Reynolds: Just now, @Mark Cuban was asked on @Morning_Joe if Luka Doncic is the MVP: "If the Mavs go forward in the playoffs, yes," Cuban said. "But we've got a long way to go."

It's been eight years now since James won his fourth MVP. His pursuit of a fifth, which would tie Michael Jordan and Russell for second most behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's six, has been complicated. He has an opportunity over the next month to solidify his standing with the Lakers slated to play without Anthony Davis sidelined with aggravated tendinosis in his right Achilles. If James carries the Lakers through during this post-Super Bowl period, when the high-profile made-for-TV games launch -- his play has been typically strong this season anyway -- he will have an important pillar in any MVP argument firmly on his side: narrative.
To gauge where the race stands at this point in the season, ESPN asked 100 media members to participate in an informal poll that mimics the postseason awards voting. To make the balloting as realistic as possible, there are at least two voters from each of the league's 28 markets, as well as a cross-section of both national and international reporters. Like with the NBA's official vote at the end of season, voters were asked to submit a five-player ballot, and results were tabulated using the league's scoring system: 10 points for each first place vote, followed by seven points for second, five points for third, three points for fourth and one point for fifth.
While James currently has the inside track in his push for a fifth MVP trophy to go with what he hopes will be a fifth NBA championship this summer, garnering 54 of a possible 100 first-place votes, the race to this point in the season is as competitive as any in recent memory, with a pair of centers -- Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid and Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic -- right on his heels.
James was named on 99 of 100 ballots and finished with a total of 760 points, leading Embiid (23 first-place votes) by just 95 points. The last MVP race to have a final margin that small came in 2004-05 when Steve Nash edged Shaquille O'Neal by 34 points. Jokic was third, garnering 18 first-place votes and a total of 596 points.
Durant, after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles, finished fourth in the voting with 272 points, and appeared on 75 ballots, while Leonard (153 points, 64 ballots) finished fifth. Antetokounmpo, the two-time defending MVP, was a distant sixth, getting a handful of votes as he appears very unlikely to win a third straight time. Doncic, the preseason favorite, received only two third place votes, as his glossy statistical resume was easily overwhelmed by the Mavericks' underwhelming record.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is now the NBA MVP betting favorite or runner-up at most sportsbooks, thanks to an unexpected commitment to the regular season that has led the Lakers to the league's best record. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook was the first operator to make James the favorite, posting 4-1 odds Monday night after the 36-year-old rallied the Lakers to a comeback road win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. James finished with 46 points on 19-for-26 shooting, including 7-for-11 from 3-point territory.
TJ McBride: PJ Dozier did not mince words when talking about how good Jokic has been. “He has MVP numbers every night.” Dozier also mentioned Nikola “Cookie Monster” Jokic’s dedication to to defense as a reason for his MVP case.
Brad Townsend: On @The Jump, @Luka Doncic was asked by Rachel Nichols if he thinks he can win MVP. "I think I can do it," but quickly adds that that isn't his first goal. "My first goal always is to win the championship."
Luka Doncic has separated himself from Giannis Antetokounmpo and emerged as the consensus favorite to win the NBA regular-season MVP at U.S. sportsbooks, and bettors are flocking to the Dallas Mavericks' young superstar. On Nov. 10, Doncic and Antetokounmpo opened as +550 co-favorites at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Since then, Doncic has attracted twice as many bets -- and twice as much money -- as any other player to become the solo favorite at +400.
Brad Townsend: Per @BetMGM, these players have received the most legal wagers for the NBA's Kia MVP award: Who is the most popular future pick to win Kia NBA MVP this season? @Luka Doncic – 14% of all bets Nikola Jokic – 9% LeBron James – 8% Kevin Durant – 7% Joel Embiid – 7%
Luka Doncic has separated himself from Giannis Antetokounmpo and emerged as the consensus favorite to win the regular-season MVP at U.S. sportsbooks, and bettors are flocking to the Dallas Mavericks' young superstar. On Nov. 10, Doncic and Antetokounmpo opened as +550 co-favorites at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Since then, Doncic has attracted twice as many bets--and twice as much money--as any other player to become the solo favorite at +450.
Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks' two-time reigning regular-season MVP, has dropped a notch back at +500, followed by Lakers stars Anthony Davis (+800) and LeBron James (+850). Doncic has attracted more bets at William Hill than Antetokounmpo, Davis and James combined. At sportsbook operator PointsBet, one out of every three bets placed has been on Doncic, who capped a breakout second NBA season with an electrifying playoff performance in the bubble in Orlando. "I thought he should have finished higher than he did last year in the [MVP] voting," said Jeff Sherman, a longtime NBA oddsmaker for the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
Who will win MVP this season? 1. Luka Doncic: 4 2. Nikola Jokic: 2 T3. Damian Lillard: 1 T3. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 1 With James already making nods toward prioritizing the pursuit of a fifth ring over chasing a fifth MVP award after a short offseason, he didn't receive a vote. Instead the leader was that guy in Dallas, Doncic. Multiple voters said that Antetokounmpo, who has won in each of the past two seasons, would suffer from voter fatigue.
Damian Lillard opened up about the possibility of being in the NBA MVP conversation in the 2020/21 season. Lillard said this can happen if the Portland Trail Blazers are a ‘winning team’. “I feel like if we’re a winning team and we’re in that top two, top three — then I think it’s definitely a real possibility. Maybe because I had a good run in the bubble and I had a good run before I hurt my groin last year [right before the All-Star break]. It was pretty much the last probably 30, 35 games of the season,” Lillard said, via Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports Northwest.
He also made fun of those who think that he should be offended if LeBron gets the award: ” So I should get mad right now if LeBron wins the MVP and not me? Don’t get crazy… that would mean that I lost my head. Guys, seven years ago I was looking up to LeBron. He was like… Like Jordan for everyone else. For me, that was LeBron. And now I am on the same sentence with LeBron”.
Andre Iguodala believes Kevin Durant will be named the NBA MVP in the 2020/21 season. Iguodala picked Durant over his former teammate in the Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry. “I’m looking forward to seeing KD. My preseason MVP [pick],” Iguodala said in an appearance on “The Match: Champions for Change” broadcast, per Marcus White of NBC Sports Bay Area, via Clutchpoints.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks took home the trophy for the second consecutive year this season. Even with the confetti likely still being cleaned off the floor days after the final buzzer in Orlando, oddsmakers are already wagering on next season’s MVP. The Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic is favored to win the coveted regular season award in 2021. He is a 4-1 favorite, according to SportsBetting.com. Antetokoumpo comes in second with 9-2 odds followed by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Curry has 5-1 odds as he makes his long awaited return to the game.
Justin Kubatko: Luka Doncic is the youngest player in NBA history to finish in the top four of the MVP voting. Older man LeBron James is the second-oldest player in NBA history to finish in the top two of the MVP voting (Karl Malone, 1998-99).
Ben Golliver: Lakers’ LeBron James w/ a long riff on awards voting after finishing second for 2020 MVP: “The voting scale is a little weird to me... I don’t know how much really we’re watching the game of basketball or are we just in the narration mode, the narrative.” pic.twitter.com/xJeQ1HLoMD
Tomer Azarly: LeBron gives more examples on questionable NBA Award voting and adds he’s not sure if voting has become more narrative based - “Did you see the votes that Devonte Graham got [for Most Improved]? He averaged 4 points last year compared to 17.5. If that’s not improving, what is?”
Eric Nehm: Giannis Antetokounmpo has won the 2019-20 NBA MVP award and he is accepting the award in Athens, Greece.

StatMuse: Reminder that MVP is a regular season award. And Giannis averaged these numbers this regular season: 29.5 PPG 13.6 RPG 5.6 APG 55.3 FG% +682 +/- (leads NBA) in 30.4 MPG pic.twitter.com/z0dsNqxMtf
Rob Schaefer: 11 players have won back-to-back MVPs in NBA history: Russell, Wilt, Kareem (2x), Moses, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Duncan, Nash, LeBron (2x), Curry 2 have won MVP and DPOY in the same season: Jordan ('88) and Hakeem Olajuwon ('94) Giannis poised to officially join both lists today
Because Giannis Antetokounmpo has won MVP honors in 2020, he is now super max eligible to sign a contract with Milwaukee in the 2022 offseason. If Antetokounmpo bypasses an extension this offseason and signs a 1+1 contract (for 30% of the cap in Milwaukee) in 2021 with the Bucks, he would be eligible to sign a five-year super max contract (35% of the cap) with Milwaukee in 2022.

On Sirius XM Radio right before the bubble games began, Justin Termine, Frank Isola and Amin Elhassan all said Paul appeared on their NBA Most Valuable Player ballot. Termine has Paul as the No. 3 player on his ballot, behind Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as MVP and Los Angeles Lakers forward/guard LeBron James at No. 2.
By the time it was over, Doncic had unleashed a couple of step-back 3s, orchestrated a beautiful two-man game with Kristaps Porzingis, and perhaps most jaw-dropping of all, dropped a between-the-legs pass to Max Kleber in traffic for an easy slam and one before polishing off the game with a contested runner in the lane. He finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds and 19 assists (a career-high), with only two turnovers. "He's one of the most talented guys I've ever played against," Antetokpounmpo said after the game. "He's making the whole team better, and he's going to keep getting better."
If you thought this vote was going to be close based on LeBron James‘ run before the league’s stoppage, think twice. Per our poll, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the near-consensus MVP after improving his scoring, rebounding and three-point percentage numbers from a season ago. By securing back-to-back MVP awards, Antetokounmpo will join Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only NBA players to do so.
Instead, basketball stopped. And with it, the momentum James had been building came to a halt. The NBA more or less made that distinction official last week when it announced postseason award voters should only base their ballots on what occurred prior to the shutdown. Just as LeBron was closing the gap. “I’m not disappointed because things happen,” James said Monday on a video conference from the league’s bubble in Orlando. “You control what you can control and I can’t control that. As far as the MVP race, I think that I’ve shown what I’m capable of doing. Not only individually but from a team’s perspective, us being No. 1 in the West.”
“There was a lot of conversation about, ‘LeBron can do those things in the East, but if he ever came to the West, what could he do?’” said James, starting to chuckle. “I heard all of that. To be able to have our team at the top of the Western Conference and playing the way that we were playing at that time and the way I was playing, it’s definitely a good feeling.”
"Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James. I do believe that he should be the MVP this year," Vogel said. "I believe he should be the MVP and I believe Anthony Davis should be the Defensive Player of the Year. I hope those awards go to our two players."
When the league told teams on Friday that the races for MVP and other regular-season individual awards are over -- ahead of the NBA restart in Orlando, Florida -- the decision came as news to Budenholzer. "I had no idea that that was the case, but it makes sense. I think it was 64, 65, 66 games for different teams, so that's certainly a significant body of work, and more importantly, certainly, Giannis, in our minds, has done more than enough to deserve a back-to-back MVP," Budenholzer said. "What he does for us on both ends of the court, what he does every night, the way he sets the bar for us, culture-wise, work ethic-wise, just as a teammate. He's an incredible teammate, plays unselfishly, does everything. And I think that's kind of what the MVP is, so we certainly feel like he's very deserving, and we'll be excited to support him."
Damian Lillard thinks so. He appeared on ESPN's Jalen and Jacoby Wednesday and cited a somewhat dubious reason for picking James. "This season I think it's LeBron," Lillard said. "They're the No. 1 team in the west, they've been consistent all year long, and for him to be at the age he's at with the amount of miles that he has on his body, how often he's talked about the pressure that they've put on him in every little thing that he does. At the level he's performing at, in my opinion, I think he's the MVP."
Damian Lillard thinks so. He appeared on ESPN's Jalen and Jacoby Wednesday and cited a somewhat dubious reason for picking James. "This season I think it's LeBron," Lillard said. "They're the No. 1 team in the west, they've been consistent all year long, and for him to be at the age he's at with the amount of miles that he has on his body, how often he's talked about the pressure that they've put on him in every little thing that he does. At the level he's performing at, in my opinion, I think he's the MVP."
Storyline: MVP Race
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September 16, 2021 | 8:36 pm EDT Update
NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo was in Greece for a meeting with the country’s prime minister Thursday and a special ceremony to bestow Greek citizenship on his mother Veronica and younger brother Alex. Antetokounmpo, who led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA championship in July, attended the ceremony at the official residence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The 26-year-old Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants. He was granted Greek citizenship in 2013, allowing him to travel to the United States and join the Bucks later that year.
“We always felt Greek, but now we have an official stamp and we are happy,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after the ceremony. “Alex and my mom are Greek citizens now.” Antetokounmpo also traveled to Greece in August with his brother Thanassis, carrying the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy. He took the trophy to the ancient Acropolis in Athens to celebrate with members of his family.
September 16, 2021 | 8:07 pm EDT Update
Keith Smith: Current Boston Celtics TPEs: $17,142,857- Evan Fournier – expires 7/18/22 $9,720,900- Tristan Thompson – expires 7/7/22 $5,096,479- Kemba Walker – expires 5/17/22 $500,000- Moses Brown – expires 6/27/22 $370,564- Jeff Teague – expires 2/11/22 Reminder: TPEs cannot be combined together! 2/2