With the playoff race heating up, so are the various award races. Specifically the MVP race. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the clear front-runner all season long. He has been amazing thus far. He is scoring 29.6 points per game on 54.7% from the field, he is grabbing 13.7 rebounds a game and dishing out 5.8 assists a game. He has been able to accomplish all of this while playing just 30.9 minutes a game. The Milwaukee Bucks are also the best team in the NBA with a record of 53-12. Giannis and the Bucks have been completely dominant, they look determined to take over the NBA. They are averaging 118.6 points a game, which is a league first, they also lead in total rebounds a game with 51.7, another category that they lead in is their percentage inside the three-point line by shooting a blistering 56.7% and they also lead in field goals made with 43.5. So this is a very good Bucks team.
Let’s move onto LeBron James and what he has been able to accomplish this season. LBJ is no slouch to the MVP conversation. He is arguably the best player in the NBA, and he has been for a very long time. Even in his 17th season, at the age of 35, he is dominating teams. Over this past weekend, he led his Los Angeles Lakers team past the Bucks (113-103) where he scored 37 points on 12-21 from the field, he grabbed 8 rebounds and 8 assists as well. Then the Lakers went on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers where LBJ scored 28 points on 7-18 from the field, where he also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 9 assists. LBJ had a huge weekend, where he beat two of the best teams in the NBA.
This is where the debate begins. LBJ has had a great season overall. He is scoring 25.7 points a game on 49.7% from the field, grabbing 7.8 rebounds a game, and dishing out a league leading 10.6 assists a game. He has done all of this in 34.9 minutes a game as well. To do this in his 17th season is amazing. This is the first time in his career that he could average double-digit assists. The Lakers are 49-13, and they are the number one seed in the Western Conference. But even with such an amazing season, is it enough to steal the MVP away from Giannis?
Giannis is the reigning MVP, and his team owns the best record in the NBA this season So far, and he has done all of this damage in 30.9 minutes. That itself is the craziest part. He has been able to play the lowest minutes since his rookie season, where he played 24.6 minutes a game. The Bucks are straight up blowing out teams and Giannis just hasn’t needed to play nearly as much. They are beating teams by 11.3 points a game. To put that in perspective, the Golden State Warriors team that won 73 games, had a point differential of 9.3 and they were scoring 114.9 points a game. So the Bucks have a more potent offense than the Warriors back in the 2015-2016 season, which is an amazing thing to accomplish as a team.
In conclusion, this is a close MVP race. LeBron has made his case over this past weekend and as the playoffs get closer, look for him to get better and better to get ready for playoffs. Giannis has been absolutely electrifying all season, and he will look to build upon his case as the Bucks try to chase 70 wins this season, but that seems less likely now since they hit 12 losses the other night. Dave McMenamin was on ESPN’s “The Jump” this past week and basically said that LBJ was the MVP because of the China controversy and because Kobe died. Let’s not make narratives about the MVP, that’s not what the award is about. That statement is disrespectful to Giannis and the NBA. Giannis was very close to Kobe and to diminish this by assuming he wasn’t is just disrespectful. Make the race about how they have played so far this season, not about the hardships that have happened around them. Both of these players deserve awards, they have both been amazing all season long. But lets not forget what the MVP award is about, it needs to go to the best player, on the best team.
Categories: NBA News Blog