NBA Rumor: MVP Race

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Luka Doncic the favorite to win MVP

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.


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.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo very likely to win MVP, DPOY

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.”

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.”

“I do my homework and I do my research on things, and I just feel like I’m a guy who, in his media, I don’t ever want to mess up my credibility, so I just speak facts,” Perkins said. “I never want to be biased and I never try to sway one way or just be taking up for my homeboy.” Perkins pointed to, as an example of his avoiding bias, picking Giannis Antetokounmpo as his preseason pick for MVP, over his friend LeBron, with whom he spent a summer playing for the Oakland Soldiers, an AAU team, in high school. “I sent him a text and I said. ‘Look man, I’ve got Giannis ahead of you,’” Perkins said. “And that’s when he texted me back and said, ‘Oh don’t worry, I’m gonna reclaim my throne.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well then do it mothafucka.’ He’s like, ‘I am, mothafucka.’”

“I do my homework and I do my research on things, and I just feel like I’m a guy who, in his media, I don’t ever want to mess up my credibility, so I just speak facts,” Perkins said. “I never want to be biased and I never try to sway one way or just be taking up for my homeboy.” Perkins pointed to, as an example of his avoiding bias, picking Giannis Antetokounmpo as his preseason pick for MVP, over his friend LeBron, with whom he spent a summer playing for the Oakland Soldiers, an AAU team, in high school. “I sent him a text and I said. ‘Look man, I’ve got Giannis ahead of you,’” Perkins said. “And that’s when he texted me back and said, ‘Oh don’t worry, I’m gonna reclaim my throne.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well then do it mothafucka.’ He’s like, ‘I am, mothafucka.’”

Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been named on 40 ballots, with a huge gap existing between him and crosstown rival Anthony Davis (61 points, 25 ballots) in sixth. Six other players — Chris Paul (28 points, 10 ballots), Nikola Jokic (18 points, eight ballots), Pascal Siakam (12 points, six ballots) Damian Lillard (four points, four ballots), Jayson Tatum (three points, one ballot) and Bradley Beal (one point, one ballot) — rounded out the voting.

Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been named on 40 ballots, with a huge gap existing between him and crosstown rival Anthony Davis (61 points, 25 ballots) in sixth. Six other players — Chris Paul (28 points, 10 ballots), Nikola Jokic (18 points, eight ballots), Pascal Siakam (12 points, six ballots) Damian Lillard (four points, four ballots), Jayson Tatum (three points, one ballot) and Bradley Beal (one point, one ballot) — rounded out the voting.

Amid all the tumult that has defined the 2019-20 season so far, there remains at least one constant: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Last season’s Most Valuable Player is the early favorite to win the award for a second straight year. ESPN asked 101 media members to participate in an informal straw poll of where the league’s MVP race stands as the season moves into its second quarter. It was Antetokounmpo who stood above the rest. The Milwaukee Bucks forward received 48 first-place votes and was the only player to appear on all 101 ballots.
1 year ago via GQ.com

You spoke to a radio station in Houston recently about the MVP race, and how you feel like the media usually goes into the season with an MVP candidate in mind, a narrative, that helps them win that award. Do you think a narrative has already taken form for 2019-2020? James Harden: Nah, it hasn’t happened yet, it’s too early. Wait until the preseason and when the regular season starts up again. But they [the media] for sure got some teams they locked in on. We all know. That’s just what it is. You can’t tell me that a guy whose team was a 14-seed at one point last year, and ended up a four-seed with everything that was going on—so many injuries—and who went on a 32-game 30-point streak, eight 50-point games, two 60-point games in one season…and all the talk was about [Giannis Antetokounmpo]? There’s no way.

John Wall doesn’t have a vote for MVP. If the Washington Wizards’ injured point guard did, though, his justification for picking Giannis Antetokounmpo over James Harden is one that would no doubt be shared by many of his fellow voters. In a sit down with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Wall explained that Antetokounmpo’s status as the best player on the league’s best team makes him the most worthy choice for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, especially considering precedent set by Harden’s most recent finishes in the MVP race. “To me, I mean, James is my guy, but I’ll go Giannis just because he has the best record in the league,” he said. “I just feel like not last year, but the year before, everyone thinks James should have won it then, but he didn’t win enough. Last year, he got first in the West, overall best record in the league — that’s why he finally cracked that safe to get [MVP]. “The numbers he’s put up this year have been historic,” Wall continued. “Never seen it before since, what, Jordan averaging 37 was the last time we’ve seen it? Those numbers and all that speak for itself. He’s like unguardable — you can’t do nothing with it. But I’m just like if you’re going off wins, I’ll go Giannis.”

But for the bulk of the players B/R spoke with, that person is Harden. Not only for what he is, but for what Antetokounmpo isn’t quite yet. It’s not that Antetokounmpo isn’t a formidable opponent. His speed, length, hops and handle make him capable of maneuvering over or around almost anyone, often culminating with a ferocious dunk. All of that, combined with his work ethic, makes him a defensive riddle to solve as well. But players know defense requires a team effort to succeed, and offensive proficiency can be as much of a reflection of a team’s system. They place the most value on the ability to score whenever and however a team needs to win. For all of Antetokounmpo’s talent, that’s where they see him falling short. “Late game, Giannis doesn’t have the ball in his hands to win,” Magic guard Evan Fournier said. “For an MVP, that’s kind of hard.”

Detroit Pistons big man Jon Leuer didn’t see a tiebreaker as necessary, either. Harden’s heroics, surrounded by a roster churned both by the acquisition and then release of 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony as well as a slew of injuries, was enough. Nor did he discount Harden’s league-leading point production because head coach Mike D’Antoni gives him the greenest of lights to shoot. “To me, it’s Harden,” Leuer said. “People say his numbers are inflated because of D’Antoni’s system, and he dribbles the air out of the ball, but carrying his team every night no matter who is out there, you can’t go against that. The team thing does factor in, which is why Giannis has to be considered. But the knock was the Rockets were a lower seed, and now they’re one of the top four in the West. I just don’t see how it’s not James.”

Well, let’s talk then. So I always love it when we have a story that changes so drastically within the context of a season, when we think one thing in November and December and then it’s completely different by the end. It’s insane how you guys have turned this around. Mike D’Antoni: “It was teetering. It was teetering. I mean you’re 11-14 (on Dec. 8), and at 25 games everybody usually says you can tell what kind of team you have – and we’re 11-14. And we hadn’t sustained Clint (Capela) missing 15 (games from mid-January to mid-February) and CP missing (17 from mid-December to late January) after that, so for me – and you can write it – that’s why James is the MVP. I’m telling you, he took that, and without CP, without Clint, with us changing almost half the roster, and took us where we have a chance to be third. Nobody else could do that. I’m telling you right now. Nobody.”

Do you think (the MVP race) is close at all? Mike D’Antoni: “No, I don’t. I don’t.” It’s a two-man race… Mike D’Antoni: “And I’ve got to tell you, (Giannis) is really good – reaaallyy good. And they’ve got the best record in the league, and that’s all good. So I’m not knocking him. I’m making the case for my guy, but take that and put it away. Your (Rockets) record is not quite as good as (the Bucks’, but) we’re right there. And (Harden) has done it with a complete change of roster. And again, his other carrying partner (Paul) was hurt for (17) games. Clint, his other guy, was out for 15 games. I don’t know. And he played every night. It’s hard for him to miss a game. He’s playing (36.4) minutes a game. He’s doing it all. I don’t know, I just don’t see the other argument. I do because of the record, and I do because of how good he is – and he’s really good.”

It also should be noted that while Antetokonmpo has improved in some statistical categories from last season, he has slipped in several as well. He’s shooting an anemic 24 percent from 3-point range, down from 30 percent a season ago; his free throw percentage is 72, down from 76, and his turnovers are up, 3.9 a game this season compared to 3.0 last season. Yet, nobody questions whether Antetokounmpo is a certifiable MP candidate. He and Harden are clearly in a two-player race for the coveted award. “It’s either Giannis or Harden,’’ said a longtime NBA scout, who has seen both players perform up close on numerous occasions this season. “I hate Harden’s game; I just hate it. But, as much as I don’t want to say this, Harden deserves to be MVP again. He’s just had one hell of a season.’’

Giannis​ Antetokounmpo doesn’t​ like​ it.​ He​ doesn’t want to talk about it.​ Unfortunately, for​ him,​ it’s the​ only​ thing​​ people want to discuss with him at the moment. Who is the 2018-19 NBA Most Valuable Player? Is it him? Or is it Houston Rockets guard and 2017-18 MVP James Harden? For months, Antetokounmpo has stressed that he tries not to think about the award and has repeatedly declined the opportunity to discuss it, but he wanted to make a few things clear in a recent chat with The Athletic.

As Antetokounmpo has argued the entire season, if he does his job — playing his best basketball and leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the league’s best record, something he’s currently doing — it’s going to take care of itself. “Obviously, we have eight games left. We have 55 wins. We might be able to finish the season with 63 wins, if we play the right way,” Antetokounmpo said. “Because OK, the regular season’s over. Even though I’m the MVP or I’m not the MVP or whatever, I don’t care, there’s going to be playoffs.” “I want to get out of the first round. I want to go to the Eastern Conference Finals. I want to go to the Finals. There’s more to this than just the MVP.”


Curry’s 28.6 points per game and 44 percent shooting from 3-point range are his highest marks since his unanimous MVP campaign in 2016. “Everybody can come up with certain narratives,” he says on the topic of the MVP award. “It’s clear who the best guys in the league are, who’s helping the team win. Comparing numbers and styles … beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t know why I can’t [win again], but I feel confident in knowing what type of player I am. I’m sure KD would say the same thing.”
2 years ago via ESPN

While players acknowledge Harden’s mastery, some are put off by the style: both the way the Rockets play and the way Harden expertly uses the current rules to his advantage. The enforcement of freedom of movement rules and the relaxing of travel calls on his step-back — and to be clear, most of the time he executes the devastating move within the rules — have helped supercharge Harden’s season in a way that can irritate his opponents. “Guys can say he gets away with travels on the step-back or he flings his body into people to get fouls, but honestly, a lot of us get away with stuff like that,” said one All-Star who didn’t want his name used because he wasn’t trying to court controversy. “Just speaking for myself, and I don’t know how others feel, but what he does isn’t always team basketball. If you look at how Giannis plays, that’s more the way I was raised in the game. Just my opinion,” he said.
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December 5, 2020 | 9:37 am EST Update
So now, entering the final season of his contract, he finds himself in a familiar place, looking to acclimate to and impress a new head coach, his fourth in four seasons, and trying to tune out the trade rumors that already are rising through the NBA. And that’s tough. “It is,’’ Ntilikina said in a Zoom interview. “But it’s part of the game. It’s part of the league. The past is the past and we have a new team now and new goals. So we’re focusing on the future, on the present, on how we can get better each and every day. And how we can make our goals be real . . . Work is just going to take care of everything. “That’s what I’m focusing on. Working, doing the best I can do to help this team get better, to help this team complete their goals. But the rest, the business part, is going to take care of itself. I’m here to get better every day, get this team better. but it is what it is.”
Storyline: Frank Ntilikina Trade?
However, scouts and executives around the league remain interested in Ntilikina, at least at a low cost. What this season holds for him in New York remains a mystery, too. The Knicks brought back Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. and grabbed Immanuel Quickley in the first round of the draft, creating a logjam at point guard. It remains to be seen if Ntilikina can win the job over that crew — particularly with some in the organization hoping to increase Smith’s value — or if his best role might be off the bench as a defensive specialist at multiple positions.
The Post and others reported Knicks president Leon Rose had interest in bringing back his former client — along with Anthony’s buddy, point guard Chris Paul. Neither occurred and the Knicks wound up not bringing in a big name. “At this point, it wasn’t really a lot [of consideration],’’ Anthony said on a Zoom call Friday. “The Knicks were making moves and were trying to figure out the direction they wanted to go in. They weren’t done making moves. I’m sure they have a plan. I don’t think me coming in and trying to mess their plan up was good for either party. “They are rebuilding and figuring out what’s in their near future. It was me personally wanting to be part of a situation I was already comfortable with. I just finished playing with these guys two, three months ago. I felt it was the right fit at this point of time where I’m at right now this particular year.’’
It has been a dramatic off-season for Doc Rivers. In September, the Clippers coach was fired after seven seasons with the team following a disappointing defeat in the NBA Western Conference semifinals, then was hired as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers less than a week later. The big move is accompanied by a big home sale, as the 59-year-old has unloaded his Malibu beach house for $12.25 million. Spanish in style, the two-story home enjoys an oceanfront spot in Malibu Cove Colony, one of L.A. County’s most expensive enclaves, with owners over the years including “The Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams and film producer Gianni Nunnari.
Scary moment for NBA star DeMar DeRozan … who chased an intruder out of his L.A.-area home after a terrifying encounter with his kids, TMZ Sports has learned. Our sources tell us … the man broke into DeRozan’s home on Nov. 19 and made his way upstairs into a play area where at least one of DeMar’s kids was hanging out. We’re told 31-year-old DeRozan — who’s 6’6″, 220 pounds — heard the commotion and raced to the area to see what was going on, coming “face-to-face” with the intruder in the process.