While Jokic is miles ahead of the field, his point total is right in line with where the winners landed each of the past few seasons. What is different, however, is that there is no clear second-place finisher. Since the league shifted to the current voting format in 2017, second place has earned at least 738 points. Embiid, who received five of the remaining 11 first-place votes, was second with 401 points — not much more than half of that typical amount. Antetokounmpo (no first-place votes, 375 points), the two-time reigning MVP, was a close third, with Damian Lillard (two first-place votes, 67 total votes, 283 points) in fourth and Harden (one first-place vote, 62 total votes, 231 points) in fifth.
James, meanwhile, went from getting more than half of the first-place votes in the last straw poll to getting none this time. He was left off nearly two-thirds of the ballots entirely, garnering just 37 total votes and 105 points. He was just ahead of Chris Paul, who had two first-place votes and 98 total points, with Kawhi Leonard (80 points, including one first-place vote) in eighth, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (28 points) in ninth and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (26 points) in 10th.
Duane Rankin: Kings coach Luke Walton said there "is room" to put Chris Paul in the MVP conversation. Paul on his way to his 17th double-double this season. Has nine points and eight assists as #Suns have 84-77 lead with 6:51 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Jump: "I really don't care. I feel the criteria changes every day" - @Kevin Durant on who he thinks should be the MVP #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #BrooklynTogether pic.twitter.com/oWDqhw4GmP
StatMuse: Nikola Jokic is currently leading the NBA in PER, WS, WS/48, BPM, VORP and is the betting favorite to win MVP. If he does win it, he would be the lowest drafted player (41st) in NBA history to do so. The current record is 15th, held by Nash and Giannis. (Submitted by @shawnqjx) pic.twitter.com/WlkysoeGk6
Playmaking—Antetokounmpo is averaging a career-best 6.4 assists—has been an area of growth for Giannis, something team officials attribute to the game continuing to slow down for the 26-year old two-time reigning MVP. “The pace that he is playing at is different,” Bucks GM Jon Horst said in a telephone interview. “He’s playing with more control. He’s picking his spots. That’s the kind of thing you only get through maturity.” Regarding the MVP race, Horst offers the strongest possible endorsement. “He is a better player this year than in the years he won,” says Horst. And while GM-supporting-star is hardly an objective take, there is evidence backing it up. Antetokounmpo is in the top-five in offensive and defensive win shares—only Jokić can claim that—and one of two players (Jokić, again) averaging at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
After dropping 44 points in a win over the Pistons on Friday night in Detroit, James Harden said that he doesn't simply believe he belongs in the Most Valuable Player award conversation -- he should sit atop the list. "Do I feel like I belong in it? I feel like I am the MVP," the Brooklyn Nets star said. "I mean, it's just that simple. I don't want to be speaking individually on myself. I am just going to leave it at that."
Either way, there's little question that James and Embiid suffering injuries helps the MVP candidacy of Nikola Jokic, the other top contender based on advanced statistics. And it continues to crack open the door for the past two winners, Antetokounmpo and Harden, whose chances were written off early in the season. Most importantly, the injuries are a reminder that we shouldn't be in a hurry to pick an MVP before the season is near completion.
The impact of injuries is a key reason it's dangerous to start to draw MVP conclusions too early in the season. Staying on the court is a key part of value within an individual regular season. Historically, 10 games missed has been about the cutoff for MVP consideration. The last player to miss more than 10 games in an MVP season was Allen Iverson in 2000-01 (11). Before that, you have to go back to Bill Walton in 1977-78 (an unprecedented 34) for the previous example. (No MVP between Walton and Iverson missed more than seven games.)
But there are also new names that have emerged as the season moves to the home stretch. Perhaps the emerging star to keep an eye on is Dame Lillard in Portland, whose odds somehow lengthened from +1800 to +2100. The Blazers’ star is single-handedly raising the oft-injured Blazers’ roster to the upper tier in the conference.
Harrison Wind: Nikola Jokic on Malone endorsing him for MVP: "It's nice. The guys are trusting me. The coaches are trusting me. The front office is trusting me. The Kroenke family (is trusting me). It's really nice to have such a big group of people behind you, trusting you." "It's cool."
Michael Singer: Malone, asked about Jokic’s MVP case: “I don’t think Nikola Jokic is a bad defender. ... If people want to nitpick, I’m sure they can say that about Nikola, but I, as a head coach and who’s worked with him for 6 years now, don’t agree with that.”
LeBron James has been awarded the NBA's MVP award four times in his career, tied with Wilt Chamberlain for the third most all time, but one of his teammates, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, says James should have double that. At least. "The NBA MVP is a very political award," Kuzma said after the Lakers' 116-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday. "Bron should have been the MVP at least eight, nine, 10 times. Everybody knows that."
When asked about Kuzma's claim, James admitted he felt he has been snubbed in the past, but he wouldn't specify how many he felt he deserved to win. "I should have more than four, I believe," James said. "But ... I don't sit around thinking about it or crying about it, or whatever the case may be. I just try to come in the next season and be the MVP and be talked about [for] it again. I bet a lot of the greatest that played this game feel like they should have more as well, if you ask any one of those guys.
"It's a mistake on the voters' part to go season after season without voting the best player in the league MVP," Vogel said. "You know what I mean? That's the simplest way to put it. There's been other players that have been deserving, but he's been the best player in the league for as long as I can remember. Maybe since his second, third year in the league. It's just one of those things that's unfortunate. It's not right. And he should get it this year. He's doing it every night and no one is as deserving."
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.
That's what we tell ourselves, anyway. But the voters -- about 100 media members -- are people, not robots. We are stricken with cognitive ticks that muddy any attempt at compartmentalization. Nagging thoughts about narrative and legacy and past and future performance figured to play an outsized role this season even before Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden entered the picture as one of the most unconventional MVP candidates in league history. Harden probably isn't going to win, and he shouldn't, but he has played himself into the race to the point that several major media outlets have devoted significant air time and virtual ink to his candidacy.
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.
On the flip side, there is a clear pull to reward James a fifth MVP as something of a career capstone. He is having an MVP-worthy season: 25 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists on tidy 51% shooting -- 36% on 3s, 59% on 2s. The two other leading candidates -- Joel Embiid of the 76ers and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets -- outpace him by most advanced metrics, but not all of them. James is in a virtual tie for No. 2 in the field of nine candidates in Value Over Replacement Player (behind Jokic, and by a lot), and No. 1 in ESPN's fancy real plus-minus stat.
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.
Basketball-Reference: Nikola Jokic: 1st in PER, 1st in BPM, 1st in Win Shares. Joel Embiid: 2nd in PER, 2nd in BPM, 2nd in WS. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 3rd in PER, 3rd in BPM, 3rd in WS. LeBron James: 14th in PER, 4th in BPM, 9th in WS. James Harden: 12th in PER, 8th in BPM, 4th in WS. Zion Williamson: 4th in PER, 19th in BPM, 10th in WS
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
Adam Zagoria: Joel Embiid is the New MVP Favorite, per @betonline_ag pic.twitter.com/QCqppFB7eS
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."
Michael Scotto: Lakers forward Jared Dudley on LeBron James for MVP: “The thing about LeBron compared to all these different players is he plays every game. That matters. It matters to voters. If we’re still up there in the top one, two, or three seed, LeBron's going to have a chance to win MVP" pic.twitter.com/umIjSAA0RQ
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.
Jusuf Nurkic: They talking Dame should be in MVP conversation... man if season over today He is the MVP!!! #CarryOn #ripcity
Nick Friedell: Wiggins -- on the Steph MVP conversation: "He's on his own level right now. There's no one doing what he's doing. In my eyes he's number one right now."
Connor Letourneau: Andrew Wiggins on why he thinks Steph Curry should be the MVP front-runner: "What he does on the floor for us, you can't replace that at all. ... There's no one playing that kind of game right now. He's on his own level right now."
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.
When asked for a comment on Embiid’s MVP candidacy, Daryl Morey, the Sixers president of basketball operations, said, “Joel is in the rare group of players in NBA history where most of the time, when you watch him, you are wondering if there is a higher level basketball league he can be promoted to, as he is an unfair advantage in this league.”
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.
Now that he is set up to be the Lakers’ centerpiece not only immediately but also well into the future, what might be next? “I’m expecting A.D. to go for the MVP,” Jared Dudley said in a video conference with reporters on Thursday. “I’m expecting him to set the tone. … He should have been Defensive Player of the Year.”
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).
Tomer Azarly: LeBron on losing MVP to Giannis - “It pissed me off. That’s my true answer. It pissed me off cuz out of 101 votes, I got 16 first place votes. Not saying the winner wasn’t deserving, but it pissed me off.”
Ben Golliver: Lakers’ LeBron James on finishing second in NBA MVP voting: “I’m fine.... We’re 1-0 in the WCF... I was pissed off at the reaction earlier... I’m absolutely great now. I’m going back to my room, drink some wine and sleep very well tonight. Let’s not get it twisted. I’m great.” pic.twitter.com/VEbZF0fstx
Mike Trudell: AD on LeBron not getting MVP: “He deserves it. It’s not even a question. Year 17 doing what he’s doing… "
Davide Chinellato: Davis is with LeBron on the mvp front: “It’s like they pick the mvp before the season even starts. We as a player should have a say, we are the ones who go on the court. I have no doubts LeBron is the mvp and if you ask around many others think the same” #NBA
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo has won his second consecutive MVP award, sources tell ESPN.
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
StatMuse: Giannis joins MJ and Hakeem as the only players in NBA history to win MVP and DPOY in the same season. pic.twitter.com/MdYehFPKCD
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.
Kyle Kuzma: Yo media, imma tell y’all this. If y’all mess up this MVP like you did the DPOY. We gonna have issues fr.
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.
May 8, 2021 | 8:15 pm EDT Update
It sure sounded as if Vildoza, currently in Spain, won’t be activated for the playoffs. Sources said Thibodeau was on board with the signing of the Spanish League combo guard, even if he never has seemed overly enthusiastic about overseas players. According to sources, getting through immigration amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be a process, but Vildoza will join the team in New York once he’s cleared by government officials.
Josh Robbins: The Magic have listed Wendell Carter Jr. (eye abrasion) as questionable to play Sunday against the Timberwolves. Listed as out are Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Chuma Okeke, Otto Porter Jr. and Terrence Ross.
Scott Agness: Pacers forward JaKarr Sampson, who suffered a concussion on Apr. 29 from a Blake Griffin elbow, is back on the bench with the team for the first time (not in uniform). That’s a good sign.