NBA MVP Race is Heating Up

NBA MVP Race is Heating Up

The NBA race for Most Valuable Player is shaping up to be a tight contest, with several players making a strong case for the award through their impressive performances on the court.

Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets is having a fantastic season and is a strong candidate for the MVP trophy. Jokic is a versatile big man who can do it all on the court, averaging over 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists per game, according to ESPN. He is a dominant force on both ends of the court and has helped lead the Nuggets to the top of the Western Conference.

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics is also in the running for the MVP award. Tatum has taken his game to new heights this season, averaging over 30 points and 8 rebounds per game while also shooting a solid 35% from three-point range, according to ESPN. He has also been able to lead his team to be one of the league’s best in the early stages of this season, guiding them to a 28-12 record as of January 8.

Senior Alexander Calianos, a member of the Boys’ Basketball program and an avid Celtics fan, believes Tatum deserves to win the award due to his team’s overall success thus far in the season.

“Tatum is fourth in average points per game, leader of the best team in the NBA, and he has the ability to coexist with another superstar on his team [Jaylen Brown],” Alexander said. “The Celtics also play one of the toughest schedules in the league, and he is usually guarding the opposing team’s best player due to his ability to guard multiple different positions.”

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks is another player who is receiving consideration for the award. Doncic has been a triple-double machine this season, nearly leading the league in that category (only behind Jokic), while also averaging a league-best 34.3 points and 8 assists per game, per ESPN. All three of these players have had outstanding campaigns thus far and are legitimate contenders to take home the Michael Jordan trophy

There are also a couple of younger talents who have thrown their names into conversation with their impressive performances.

Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers is having a career year thus far, averaging 29 points per game while shooting a career-high 40% from three-point range, as reported by ESPN. He has also been a leader for the Cavs on both ends of the court, helping the team to contend in a stacked Eastern Conference with notable high-scoring performances like his recent 71-point effort on January 2 against a solid Bulls team. Mitchell’s improved play and the Cavs success this season have made him a viable candidate for the MVP award.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder is having a breakout season and could be a dark horse candidate for NBA MVP. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging over 30 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds a game, per ESPN, and has shown the ability to take over games with his scoring and playmaking. He has also been a leader for the Thunder and has helped guide them to a solid record despite a talent-depleted roster. Gilgeous-Alexander’s strong play and the fact that the Thunder have been able to overachieve this season make him a potential candidate for the MVP award.

Sophomore member of the Boys’ Basketball program, Tate Cowperthwait, thinks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should win the award due to his ability to carry a mediocre Oklahoma City Thunder team.

“Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be the MVP of the 2022-2023 season because of what he’s been able to do on such an underdeveloped team, who still have a chance at the play in game because of him,” he said. “The Thunder are currently the 13th seed; they’re only four wins behind the warriors, a definite playoff team.”

“Shai is fourth in the league in points per game and has played a lot of minutes because of how much his team needs him,” he added. “A recent argument against Shai’s MVP case could be the Thunder’s recent performance against the Celtics where the Thunder scored 150 points all while Shai was out with sickness, but that one game shouldn’t define his season, which is also not close to over.”

The NBA MVP award is presented annually to the best player in the league as voted on by a panel of media members. The award was first given out in the 1955-1956 season and has been given out every year since. Some of the most iconic players in NBA history, such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, have won the award multiple times. The prestigious award is considered one of the highest honors in the NBA.

The award also can mean different things to different people. For some, the MVP award is a measure of individual performance and the player who has the best statistics or most impact on the court should be crowned MVP. Others believe the trophy should go to the player who has led their team to the best record in the league, regardless of their individual statistics.

Another belief commonly held is that the MVP award should be given to the player who has made the biggest impact on the league or has had the most memorable season. Ultimately, the MVP award is a subjective honor that means different things to different people and can be influenced by a variety of factors.

Something important to note when coming to conclusions regarding who should win the award is that despite the fact that the previously mentioned Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets is having a fantastic season and very well could win the trophy, he is less likely to win due to voter fatigue.

Voter fatigue refers to the idea that voters may become tired of seeing the same player win the award year after year, and they may be more likely to look for new candidates. Jokic has won the MVP award the last two years and has consistently been one of the top players in the league, so some voters may feel that it is time to give someone else a chance.

One famous example of voter fatigue occurred in the 2013-2014 season, when LeBron James had won the MVP in four of the previous five seasons. Despite having another strong season, James ultimately lost the award to Kevin Durant.

Another example occurred in the 2018-2019 season, when the previous MVP, James Harden, put together another MVP-caliber season but ultimately fell short to first-time winner of the award, Giannis Antetokounmpo.