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Rob’s Rolling MVP Guest List – December 1st

Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1

The season is now around six-weeks old and teams, as well as their star players, are beginning to separate themselves from the competition.

Some players who started off hot, leading their teams to winning records and defeating everyone in their path, have been brought down to earth. Some have played the long game, steadily rising up the standings with no discernible ‘run’ or streak of explicitly good form to speak of. Others have shaken off bad starts to catapult themselves into the conscious of even the most casual fans, the league over.

Let me make this clear: These are not necessarily the players who I expect to be at the table at the end of the season when the award is voted on. These are the players who have excelled in the opening six-weeks of the season, and deserve recognition for doing so.

Before we get to the players, let’s get a quick reminder of the metaphor and rules I am using to determine my MVP Guest List, as well as who was on the list on November 1st.


  1. My rolling MVP calculations take the form of a table at a restaurant. That table has four seats. That’s it. No adding seats, no joining tables together, no sharing a seat with your teammate. Just four. These are the truest of candidates.

  2. Those players who deserve recognition and are in the wider conversation are in the restaurant, but are waiting at the bar for a seat at the table to become available. The bar can have a maximum of six people waiting for a seat at the table at any one time. These are the players who were unlucky to miss out on the table, but with some good luck, may find themselves there soon.

  3. Factors taken into account are statistics, difficulty of schedule, level of teammate support, games played, team record and numerous others, including the eye test and subjective opinion.

  4. The order in which players are listed either at the table, or at the bar, is random. Myself, and the rest of team will make our final MVP picks later in the season prior to the award being announced.

  5. Players will come and go from the table, as well as the bar, as the season goes on. If you disagree with the guest list I outline, let me know on Twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send an email to!

November 1st Guest List:

The Table:

  1. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

  2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

  4. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers

The Bar:

  1. Montrezl Harrell – Washington Wizards

  2. Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors

  3. LaMelo Ball – Charlotte Hornets

  4. Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets

  5. Jimmy Butler – Miami Heat

  6. Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers

Without further ado, as of December 1st, 2021, my MVP guest list:

The Table:

Chris Paul – 14.5ppg, 4.1rpg, 10.1apg, 2.0spg, 0.3bpg, 34.9% 3FG, W/L 17-3.

After a 1-3 start to the season, the Suns have been literally flawless since, racking up sixteen-straight wins on their way to the #2 seed in the Western Conference.

There are many contributors on the Phoenix roster, but Chris Paul gets the nod as their representative on this list due to his ability to help the rest of the roster achieve to their full potential. Just like last season, Paul is the oil that helps this Phoenix machine run.

Throughout his career, fans and analysts alike have rolled off superlatives to describe him and his impact on a basketball court, including anointing him with the nick-name ‘Point-God’, and Paul continues to not only live up to that moniker, but also defy father-time in the process. Put simply, CP3 is a basketball savant whose nous and ability to control a game remain unmatched.

Paul’s offensive game is as sharp as ever, managing to contribute close to 15 points per-game on 47.2% from the field, and 34.9% from three, despite being the third or fourth scoring option. His ability to roll off a screen or penetrate into the lane and hit the mid-range remains one of his greatest skills, along with his ability to draw defences in with the threat of that very shot, only to kick the ball out and find open shooters in any position on the floor. Paul’s league-leading 10.1 assists per-game are testament to this.

Chris Paul continues to defy age and propel the Suns up the Western Conference standings. Credit: Bright Side of The Sun

On the defensive end, Paul continues to use his basketball IQ and superior positioning to routinely stymie younger, bigger, stronger, and more athletic players on the perimeter. He also continues to be a pest to anyone who becomes complacent with the ball, using his on-ball prowess and off-ball anticipation to rack up steals, as seen by his 2.0 steals per-game average, placing him sixth in the league in that category.

While the Suns haven’t had the hardest schedule in the association for the opening six or so weeks, they have conquered all who have come before them, and have done so convincingly. It’s also worth noting that Suns Owner Robert Sarver is currently the subject of an NBA investigation following reports of racism and misogyny. You don’t have to make too large a leap to assume that Paul’s leadership during this time would be invaluable, both on and off the court, given his experience with the Los Angeles Clippers and former-owner Donald Sterling a decade or so ago.

Paul continues to prove his worth and provide exemplary leadership on and off the court. He enables his teammates to excel in their roles and is the oil that helps unlock the full potential of the roster. He is doing all of this while laughing in the face of father time.

His spot at the table is well and truly deserved.

Paul George – 25.6ppg, 7.6rpg, 5.2apg, 1.8spg, 0.5bpg, 32.9% 3FG, W/L 11-9.

George is the first player to make more than one appearance at the table this season, having also scored an invite on my November 1st Guest List. While the Clippers 11-9 record may seem underwhelming on paper, George continues to warrant an invite to the table due to his individual stats and the sheer work-load he has on his shoulders game-in and game-out.

First and foremost, the stats are there for George on both ends of the floor. He ranks sixth in the league in scoring at 25.6 points per-game and while his steal numbers have dropped off slightly in the last month, his 1.8 pilfers per-game average is good enough to see him sit in the top-ten in that category as well. Combine this with his ability to involve his teammates on the offensive end, and his tendency to guard the oppositions best perimeter player when the game is on the line, and George is a literal one-stop-shop for all of Coach Ty Lue’s needs.

The Clippers have needed him to be all that and more, too, given the lack of support George has received so far. We all know that running-mate Kawhi Leonard’s return remains far off in the distance, if at all this season, but there are a handful of other key pieces who have failed suit up regularly in the opening six-weeks of their campaign.

Paul George embraces Reggie Jackson following an early season win. Credit: Ronald Martinez, Getty Images.

Stretch forward Marcus Morris Sr has only just returned from an on-going knee issue which kept him sidelined since October 25th. Morris’ back-up on the depth chart, Nicolas Batum, was managed to start their campaign following a gruelling Olympic run, only to be placed in Health and Safety Protocols on November 22nd and not sighted since.

Serge Ibaka’s return from back surgery saw him play his first game of the season against Charlotte on November 8th, after which he promptly asked to be sent down to the Clippers G-League affiliate to help him rediscover his confidence and conditioning. George’s accomplishments so far this season are made more remarkable given his team has spent the heavy-majority of its games without three first-choice starters, and arguably the four players he would ideally share the court with to close-out games.

The Clippers have had a relatively easy schedule so far, but George’s ability to answer any call Ty Lue yells from the side-line, his individual numbers, and propensity to elevate and empower his teammates, in addition to leading them to a plus .500 record in a tough Western Conference, means he holds his spot at the table.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – 27.1ppg, 11.7rpg, 6.0apg, 1.2spg, 1.8bpg, 28.4% 3FG, W/L 12-8.

Giannis is the second player to hold down his seat at the table from November 1st as he continues to utterly shred any defence the Bucks are faced with.

The per-game averages, as always with the ‘Greek Freak’, are there. He ranks third in points, fifth in rebounds, seventh in blocks and is even top-25 league-wide in assists. He also continues to play the game with a relentless passion, combining endless energy with a near arrogant defiance that any player on the court can be better than he is. Beyond this, however, is the fact he continues to lead his team to wins despite the absence of some of his star teammates.

Like Paul George in Los Angeles, Giannis has had to shoulder a very heavy load for Coach Budenholzer and the Milwaukee Bucks. Wing scorer Khris Middleton was placed in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols on November 1st and didn’t return until November 17th, and while Middleton was out, veteran guard Jrue Holiday also missed time while on his road to recovery following an ankle injury picked up on opening night. Throw in Brook Lopez, who hasn’t played a single minute since opening night due to a lower-back complaint, and the load Giannis has had to shoulder becomes increasingly heavy.

Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t seem content after winning the Championship last season. Credit: DraftKings Nation

Through it all, however, Giannis has not only kept the Bucks afloat, but kept them in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. In Milwaukee’s opening 21 games, Antetokounmpo has lead the team in points, rebounds and assists an astonishing nine times, and missed out by only one of those categories in another nine games.

It’s clear Giannis has not only been an MVP for Milwaukee, but he’s also a genuine candidate for the league-wide award.

Steph Curry – 28.4ppg, 5.8rpg, 6.9apg, 1.6spg, 0.6bpg, 41.7% 3FG, W/L 17-2.

I resisted the temptation to give Steph Curry a place at the table on November 1st due to the pleasant surprise of some other candidates who had great individual statistics and winning records, but in the last month Steph has simply made it impossible to leave him at the bar.

The Warriors, behind Curry, are leading the league with a 17-2 record, their only losses an early-season surprise from the upstart Grizzlies and a close loss to Charlotte on the road on November 15th. Curry has also appeared in every game bar one – a win against Detroit on the road on November 20th.

Steph Curry passed Ray Allen on the NBA’s All-Time 3-Point Field Goals Made list last month. Credit: Slam Online

After indifferent patches last season (despite a hot finish), Curry is back to doing what he does best – facilitating a high-octane offense, waiting for opponents to change their coverages to become an off-ball threat, and elevating the play of those around him. He continues to delight broadcasters, fans and even opposition arenas with his skills, and he’s doing it all without arguably his most important running mate in Klay Thompson.

While not strictly relevant to Curry’s MVP case for this season, on November 15th, he passed Ray Allen for most 3-point field goals made in NBA history, an accomplishment that many have known he would achieve for many years.

Whether Curry takes home this season’s Award or not, it’s clear he remains one of the league’s most game-changing talents. We are lucky to see him night-in, night-out as he pursues his third MVP Award.

The Bar:

Rudy Gobert – 14.9ppg, 14.5rpg, 0.9apg, 1.0spg, 2.2bpg, 0.0% 3FG, W/L 13-7.

Jimmy Butler – 23.6ppg, 5.8rpg, 5.3apg, 2.1spg, 0.3bpg, 20.0% 3FG, W/L 13-7.

Kevin Durant – 28.6ppg, 7.6rpg, 5.4apg, .7spg, 0.6bpg, 41.1% 3FG, W/L 14-6.

Nikola Jokic – 26.4ppg, 13.6rpg, 6.4apg, 1.2spg, 0.9bpg, 41.0% 3FG, W/L 9-10.

DeMar DeRozan – 25.8ppg, 5.2rpg, 4.1apg, 1.0spg, 0.4bpg, 33.9% 3FG, W/L 13-8.

Bradley Beal – 23.2ppg, 5.2rpg, 5.9apg, 1.1spg, 0.4bpg, 27.5% 3FG, W/L – 13-7.

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