*Two writers collaborated on this piece, Kalel Dawkins and myself.*
Since the creation of the Most Valuable Player award in Basketball in 1955–56, we have seen some of the best players ever capture this trophy. Some winners of this include Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Stephen Curry. As the game of basketball has evolved, so has the media, particularly with their definition of the Most Valuable Player award. Slowly, the media has transformed the word “valuable” into a definition of “The Best”, which in this situation, is false. As discussions have been raised on sports broadcasts such as First Take and Undisputed, valuable has been taking out of context. We need to redefine this award, making it clear to the public of the meaning of valuable. We need to understand how value is interpreted in the sports world and its significant to this trophy. Luckily, you have to look no further, as the answer is coming below. We begin.
Valuable – An Explanation
Valuable can be defined as precious, something of great worth. You know, a signed piece of clothing from your favorite athlete. An experience you gain from going to another country. Or sharing memories with the people you love. Having value is something you treasure, something you honor and respect. Whether it is a prized possession, unconditionally appreciating a person, or even valuing yourself. We need values to keep us going and define what we stand for. That’s some deep stuff right there. Extremely touching. We move.
In sports, it takes a light-heated and competitive approach. But the concept of the award still follows the same meaning of the word valuable. We transition to the conversation of sports.
What Is A MVP?
You see, in the sports world, a valuable player is someone who is of the most importance to a franchise. A player that without his contribution to the team, would not be a factor in winning or mentioned in the media (Cause that’s important nowadays). This is not necessarily the best player on the best team in the competition. Or the best player on a particular team. It is the value and performance an athlete shows on a given night that propels his team to win.
It takes a great deal to win this award. You can not just have a few good games or a couple of strong performances to collect this trophy. You need consistency, you need to play almost every game. You have to be the driving force, a leader by example, that your performance directly impacts the game.
In the NBA, it is specific to the regular season, where the playoffs should have no interference with how the players should be judged (there is a finals MVP trophy for this). That is where the word most comes into play. Whichever player can consistently provide this production, deserves to win the award. Or should win the trophy, the NBA has had a few wrong decisions in the past (they robbed Kobe Bryant and James Harden in previous years).
Winning is a factor for this also, especially in the NBA. A team with a losing record is extremely unlikely to have a player win the MVP award. That is just how it is. Sorry, Bradley Beal.
Moving on, the MVP race this year has been one for the ages. Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo (spell check that please) are the clear two front runners for this award. Luka Doncic is also a dark horse option but it seems highly unlikely because of a few injuries he has suffered this season. But with the ambiguity and controversy around the MVP award, it’s time to settle the debate. Who is the MVP and why do they deserve it? We have our cases, let us break down the contenders and see what they have offered this season.
The Curious Case of “The Washed King”
Look what some of y’all did. You made this lab-created beast angry. Shame on you.
Some of you just had to talk. Yes, I am talking to you. Lebron saw some of the posts about calling him washed up. Many said he did not have enough left in the tank. Many said he is finished and father time has caught up to him. Shame, Shame, Shame. Now he is rinsing the league every night with minimal effort. (Wash your hands after you read this please).
This lab-created specimen in the figure here is Lebron James. He is in his 17th year in the NBA and playing unprecedented basketball at the “old age” of 35. Lebron is an anomaly. A once in a lifetime player. We have never seen anything like him and we probably will not see someone like him again in sports. A true icon. We are lucky to see his greatness still being shown every night.
Lebron is currently averaging 25.7 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and he is leading the league in assists with 10.6 assists per game. This season, James has made his presence felt, leading the Lakers to a record of 49–13, sitting at the number one seed in the west. So far this season, Lebron has a passed Kobe for third on the all-time scoring list with now 34,087 career points. The Lakers are 20–0 when Lebron scores 30 points or more and at age 35, he is the oldest player in history to average 30 and 10 over a 10 game span. Lebron James has also set career highs in points created and in assists per game. And not to mention, his current numbers are arguably better than his previous numbers from his past four MVP seasons.
Looking at what Lebron has done this season is incredible. If we take age out of the equation, it is still extremely impressive what Lebron is producing. Without his contributions, the Lakers would be a lower table Western Conference team. The West is extremely competitive and with the roster they have, they would only stand chance because of the other all-star on their team, Anthony Davis. Lebron on a routine basis has shown he is that guy. The alpha in Los Angeles who is ready to become the oldest MVP winner since Karl Marlone in 1998–99. Lebron’s case is solid, with all the evidence and facts presented before us every night. He’s got a good shot to win (cause he plays basketball and he shoots sometimes) but Giannis in Milwaukee is right there shooting next to him (usually bricks), attempting to capture this illustrious award also.
The Case Of The “Greek Freak”
Giannis Antetokounmpo (now only being referred to as Giannis as we are tired of spellchecking his name) was created in a discrete laboratory experiment in Nigeria before being sent to Greece for the final touches. It is the only logical explanation for this freak of nature. Make it make sense.
Giannis is currently averaging 29.6 points per game, 13.7 rebounds per game and 5.8 assists per game. He is third in the league in points and third in the league in rebounds. When compared to Lebron, Giannis averages more points, rebounds, and blocks (1.0). Giannis has had an outstanding season so far, leading the bucks to the best record (53–10) in the league. The Bucks are sitting at number 1 in the eastern conference and have clinched a spot in the playoffs, largely due to Giannis’s input.
Giannis won the MVP award in the 2018–19 season, so he knows what it takes to be the most valuable player. He has arguably had a better season this year than last year, showing the growth and durability in his game. Maintaining the numbers he is averaging and the ferocity he plays with every night is not an easy feat to accomplish. His consistency in play is a great as anyone in the league right now, constantly delivering for his team. There are not many like him. Giannis is an absolute beast, literally and figuratively.
Because of the weaker eastern conference, the Bucks would still make the playoffs if Giannis was not on their team. They would be around a 4th, 5th or 6th seed in the east, having a good enough squad to do damage and hold their own in the league. But with Giannis, he makes them a different type of threat. Because they have him, anything is possible and this is why Giannis can win this award again. His value speaks for itself. A new face of the league will be needed once Lebron is out of the NBA. Giannis is a top candidate to take that spot. Watch out for Giannis from now on, he is closer to the best in the league (Lebron James right now) more than you may have anticipated.
The Case of “Luka Magic”
Although Lebron and Giannis are far ahead in the race for MVP, let’s not count out Luka Doncic (He is already counted out but we like him so). Coming off his impressive rookie season and winning rookie of the year, Luka has improved tremendously in his following season. Playing like a seasoned veteran in only his 2nd year, Luka has put the league on watch. He is on the rise. And he is only 21 years old. Look out. (A reminder to please wash your hands).
Luka is currently averaging 28.7 points per game (6th in the league in points per game) 9.4 rebounds per game and 8.7 assists per game (4th in the league in assists per game). Luka also has the most recorded triple-doubles with 14 so far this season. His contribution to his team is everything. They will go as far as he can take them. With having the primary ball-handling and facilitating responsibilities, everything runs through Doncic. At such a young age, it is impressive how well he is handling the situation. Luka has played 54 games out of 67, missing 13 games due to injuries, the most out of these 3 candidates. With Lebron and Giannis playing at such a high level, Luka has been overlooked and underappreciated when compared to these two. It is unlikely that Luka will be holding that trophy at the end of the year but at least his team will make the playoffs. That counts for something right?
Dallas sits 7th in the Western Conference with Luka leading them to a record of 40–27. Considering the fact that he is in the western conference, this is extremely impressive. His numbers from last year have improved this season and he is just getting started in what will soon be a hall of fame career. Luka may not win the award this year but if he remains healthy, he will capture this award in the coming future. The impact that he has on his team is immense and it will continue to be for many years to come. If you appreciate quality basketball, you appreciate Luka Doncic.
Who Will Take The Award?
Lebron James just takes victory for this one. Giannis has made it a close fight (Ha, not like Fury and Wilder) but Lebron deserves this. Hear us out. What Lebron does every single night is the reason why his team wins. If Lebron has an ineffective game or does not play, the chances that his team will win vastly decreases. This is not the same case for Giannis. The Bucks starting lineup and depth allows them to stay in games much more when compared to the Lakers. In terms of value, Lebron’s is slightly higher because of his overall effect in a basketball game. The dropoff in how the Lakers play when Lebron is off the court is much too low. When compared to the Bucks and when Giannis is off the court, they still fair well against other opponents.
Lebron is the most valuable player because he is ultimately the direct driving force to his team winning games. Giannis overall has a better supporting cast in Milwaukee. This is not discrediting what Giannis does and brings to the court every night. But with better players surrounding you, it is easier to win more games because you have more help. Luka, keep doing your thing. Better luck in the next coming years. Your time will come.
In order, we have the MVP voting as Lebron -1st, Giannis 2nd, and Luka 3rd.
Thank you for reading. We hope this article gave insight into what an MVP is and who deserves to win this award this season. Share this with everyone you know and give us your opinion on who your MVP is and why. We would love to hear it. Stay safe and healthy. Answer the question below also. Better things are coming.
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