We should first determine how important the word ‘valuable’ is, and then, ‘most’ to follow. This battle is ongoing in every major sport, every year. Especially in the NBA. Do you reward the best offensive player, or should it be the best two-way player? Or should it be the player that is most valuable to their team? We can and should go a step further. Should the award be given to the best player that is the most valuable to their team, and the team is a winning team; one that would not be, without this player?
I referenced the same dilemma in other leagues because we just experienced this in Major League Baseball. Shohei Ohtani’s value to the Los Angeles Angels in 2021 is off the charts, especially absent Mike Trout, but for what? The Los Angeles Angels finished under .500, fourth in their division and nowhere near the playoffs. Should a player be rewarded for that? This is what makes it hard to pick MVP winners in professional sports.
I will give my pick for MVP and explain the why behind the why. I will also detail my runner ups. I can say with confidence no expert will have the same picks as me, which is why I am not an expert and but a simple blogger, however my choice is the sensible one.
This is the A-list. This is who is projected to win the award. In order.
Nikola has a stat line this year that is almost identical to last season, and that was good enough to win the NBA MVP in 2021. That bodes well for his chances in 2022. We tend to forget Nikola Jokic has not had Jamal Murray the entire season, and he still has the Denver Nuggets in the number 6 seed. The final stat line of 2,000 points, 1000 rebounds and 500 assists, although not as remarkable as it may seem, has never been done before, and that warrants some extra attention. Nikola Jokic is currently the favorite for the award.
Joel Embiid has been the definition of solid. Like Jokic, there are no bad games. Some games are amazing, but none of them are bad. His numbers are very impressive. His leadership is equally impressive. Throughout all the Ben Simmons drama and turmoil Joel has remained the leader the Philadelphia 76ers need. He accepted James Harden with open arms, and allows James to operate around his game, while not hurting the team numbers (wins), nor his own stats. His points per game have increased since Harden’s arrival. The 76ers battled for the top spot until the last week of the season.
Giannis is my MVP. I cannot say I have ever watched a player play against the best competition and literally “put a team on his back,” as Giannis did against the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, and do so down the stretch against all odds, on the road, and with losing Khris Middleton near the end of Q4 in Brooklyn. Giannis displayed his entire repertoire. Much like he did in 2021 NBA playoffs, Giannis has to better than good for the team to compete. The “Greek Freak” was money from the free throw line. He was a beast on defense, extremely aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, and hit the game tying 3-pointer with four seconds left in the game, personifying “clutch.” Giannis is also the most improved all-around player of the MVP candidates. His post game has evolved as has his shooting. He is my MVP.
The fringe players that deserve a look, but are unlikely to win:
Luka Doncic: The man does it all, and with limited star power on the team. Luka could win this award in many years, just not this one. Luka is to the Dallas Mavericks what Ja Morant is to the Memphis Grizzlies. He is a walking stat. You name it, Luka can give it to you. The sometimes-defense is a knock that will never go away. Fortunately for him defense is a afterthought when choosing NBA MVP.
DeMar DeRozan: The fire that carried DeMar through the first part of the season, unfortunately faded not long after. DeMar’s big-point performances post-All-Star Game were rarely paired with team wins, or high tallies in other areas – assists, rebounds, etc. It is just not enough to win, especially given the Bulls’ slide as of late.
Jayson Tatum: Tatum, like many, may always be plagued by a talented player alongside him. Unlike many duos in the Eastern conference like James Harden and Joel Embiid, or Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, which are pairings comprised of two completely different players; Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are almost identical players. The similarities are endless, and the last ten games of the season, Brown was the better player. This hurts Jayson’s chances of winning MVP, since there is another guy on the team doing the same thing, in the same role.
Devin Booker: Booker is an exceptional scorer, but that is where it stops. He is the benefactor of Chris Paul and many minutes, this is not to say he would not be great, but he is just not an MVP amongst competition that do so many things well. The offensive numbers were phenomenal, and his team has the best record in the league, but many players have similar or better numbers.
Trae Young: Trae is in my top 5 for voting. I place him just behind Luka Doncic. Few can take over a game like Trae Young. He is never tired, and always active. Trae finished the season averaging 10 assists to go along with 28 points a game. These are special numbers, and Trae has asserted himself as a do-it-all closer. A great season for Trae, but not enough to win the award.
Players with injuries which have put them in the back seat.
I could tell you all about these guys and how talented they are, but with all of them playing sixty-five games or less, they should not be in the race. It is however very telling how Memphis played without Ja Morant. He is a dynamite player, but his absence highlighted just how deep the Memphis Grizzlies are. The Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors were not the same without Chris Paul and Steph Curry.
My MVP Voting:
1 – 5
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Joel Embiid
- Nikola Jokic
- Luka Doncic
- Trae Young