Weekly Hodgepodge: MVP voting, zone defense, and Charles Bassey
Thought of the Week: Pity the MVP voters
It will be very unfun to fill out an awards ballot if things keep going at this rate. When normalized per 36 minutes, stat lines are absurd and hard to differentiate. How do voters choose between these five candidates?
Surprise! They won’t have to, because none of these candidates is likely to even sniff a top-five finish. Those players, in order, were Nikola Jokic, Kevin Durant, De’Aaron Fox, Desmond Bane, and Zion Williamson. All five are putting up incredible numbers, yet they are, at best, fringe MVP candidates behind the world-eating dominance of mononymous titans like Giannis, Luka, Embiid, Tatum, and Curry (and if his team keeps surprising, maybe even SGA?). And we’re not even talking about players like Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Pascal Siakam, or Donovan Mitchell here, all of whom have been vitally important to successful teams.
My order, based as much on feel as on numbers right now:
Giannis Antetokounmpo— the best player in the world is carrying a heavy two-way load without suffering for it.
Luka Doncic — one year, he’s actually going to show up in shape, and he’s going to break basketball. Even without that, he still might be the overall frontrunner for the award from a media dying to give it to him.
Jayson Tatum — The best two-way wing in the game (sorry to my man Paul George) seems to have gotten even better this year. He’s finally finishing at the rim at elite levels, something I’ve always wanted from him.
Curry and Embiid will have strong statistical cases but likely need a bit more team success to have a realistic chance of winning (very plausible!).
Previous years have largely felt like two- or three-man races pretty early on. This year, however, we could see four or five players garnering significant vote share. It’s a sign of how deep and awesome the league is right now!