Rob’s Rolling MVP Guest List – February 1
Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1
All-Star season is in full swing and while we know who the starters will be for the game (my thoughts on Andrew Wiggins here), all it does is fuel the fire for who the truest of MVP candidates really are.
As always, before I get into my rolling MVP Guest List for February 1st, 2022, a quick reminder of the metaphor and the rules I am using to determine it, as well as a recap of who made the list on January 1st.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 BMBTPodcast@gmail.com!
January 1st Guest List:
Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets
Chris Paul – Phoenix Suns
Demar DeRozan – Chicago Bulls
Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
Giannis Antetokoumnpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors
LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers
Jarrett Allen – Cleveland Cavaliers
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Without further ado, as of February 1st, 2022, my MVP guest list:
Chris Paul: 14.7ppg, 4.5rpg, 10.2apg, 1.9spg, 0.3bpg, 34.7% 3FG, W/L 40-9
I’m running out of things to say that accurately sum up Paul’s season so far.
The superlatives only do him so much justice in terms of quantifying his on-court impact for this Phoenix team. I can say he’s the point-god. I can say he remains the key that helps this offense run. I can say he continues to defy father-time and laugh in the face of Covid-19 as he is yet to miss a game this season, but it doesn’t seem enough. Paul has again been amazing in the last month.
Phoenix were just one loss away from a perfect month – their lone blemish a 23-point aberration against Miami on January 8th in which, admittedly, Paul player poorly by his lofty standards. Before and after that game, however, Paul averaged 15.7 points, an astonishing 11.8 assists (with only 2.4 turnovers) in addition to 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals, hitting on 42.2% of this threes. Yikes!
Chris Paul continues to dominate for the Suns. Credit: Sky Sports
Barring an extending stint on the sidelines or the Suns dramatically falling apart as the season goes on, I can’t see Paul losing his place at the table given his performances thus far. The biggest hurdle to him actually going on and winning the award at this point honestly looms as the fact the Suns, thanks in part to their amazing record, are almost winning too easily.
I hope the actual voters don’t get complacent and recognize the brilliance of season that he is having on its merits, and not just as a pleasant surprise given his age.
In the interim, he is an absolute lock on the table on my MVP Guest List.
Ja Morant: 26.1ppg, 6.0rpg, 6.8apg, 1.3spg, 0.4bpg, 36.4% 3FG, W/L 35-17
Morant started the season explosively, and even made my Rolling MVP Guest List in the first edition for this season before dropping out of contention due to games missed through injury. He’s come back with a vengeance though and currently has the Grizzlies comfortably in the third seed out West.
Ja’s last month has been nothing short of spectacular, and his body of work prior gives him reason to be back at the table. Averages of 28.6 points with seven assists, six rebounds and a steal per game are all above his overall season averages, and the team has compiled an 11-3 record in January, in part, because of his play.
There were questions raised over Morant’s true impact on the Grizzlies when the team reeled off a 10-2 record without him across the latter stages of November and first half of December, and they were the right questions to ask at the time. In hindsight, however the more likely truth is that the team has figured themselves out and how their off-season acquisitions fit, allowing them to elevate their game as a collective – and Morant has been a huge part of that in the last month.
Ja Morant’s relentless attacking of the rim and athleticism is reminiscent of Derrick Rose, who won the MVP when he was the same age Morant is now. Credit: MARCA
In a league (and conference) stacked with premier guard talent, Morant continues to elevate himself into the upper echelon despite his age and relative inexperience at the NBA level. His rise and his game can easily be compared to that of former Chicago Bull Derrick Rose – a freakishly athletic and dynamic ball-handler who elevated those around him into contention far quicker than anyone expected.
Rose became the youngest MVP winner ever at just 22 years and 191 days when he took home the award in 2011. Morant’s individual stats are scarily comparable, and the explosive fan-favourite is currently 22 years and 175 days old.
He may not have the overall team record come May to repeat Rose’s feat, but he’s certainly deserving of his spot at the table while we wait to see how the rest of the season plays out.
Steph Curry: 25.7ppg, 5.5rpg, 6.3apg, 1.5spg, 0.4bpg, 37.6% 3FG, W/L 37-13
There has been a shift in NBA fandom regarding Curry in the last month, with many pointing out the ‘slump’ Curry has been in lately. The two-time MVP acknowledged as much recently, but Curry in a slump is still arguably the hardest player in the league to contain and game plan for.
Sure, in his last month, nearly all of his averages are down on his overall season stats. Points have dropped to 21.1 per game, his three point shooting percentage is over 6% down and the Warriors as a team have only managed a 10-6 record over January. Their overall record however (good enough for second in the entire league) and Curry’s body of work to this point keep him at the table over some of the other candidates who find themselves at the bar.
Steph Curry’s play may have dipped this past month, but his body of work is enough to see him secure his seat at the table…for now. Credit: MARCA
I’d expect Curry’s overall stats to drop a little bit as the season continues given the re-integration of Klay Thompson following his return from long-terms injuries, however the efficiency should return to keep him on this guest list.
If the efficiency fails to return and his individual stats continue to decline, Curry could find his invite to the table in jeopardy as more and more of the league’s elite, such as Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic, continue to elevate their games and lead their teams to victories.
Nikola Jokic: 26.2ppg, 13.8rpg, 7.7apg, 1.4spg, 0.7bpg, 37.5% 3FG, W/L 28-21
The last invite to the Rolling MVP Guest List for February goes to the reigning MVP.
His play over the last month has netted the Nuggets an 11-5 record while performing in line with his season averages in all categories except assists – which despite his continued lack of help on the court, he somehow managed to raise by 1.3 per game up to a flat 9.0 per game across January. Another remarkable stat which outlines just how good Jokic has been is that he last recorded a game with a negative plus minus on January 5th. On that occasion, the Nuggets lost to the Jazz by six-points and he recorded a -1 in that category.
Nikola Jokic may well be on the verge of an all-time season. Credit: Sporting News
While plus minus can be a bit of a convoluted statistic, it boils down to this: Across a season, an average plus-minus +10 is an all-time season in line with the greatest Jordan or LeBron ever put together. Plus eight is an MVP season the likes of peak Dirk or Shaq had. Plus six is an All-NBA calibre season, plus four is generally considered an All-Star season, and plus two means you’re a good starter in this league. Since Jokic’s performance against the Jazz on January 5th, he’s recorded an average plus-minus of +11.8!
Furthermore, across the season, Jokic is averaging a plus 7.6 per game. In plain terms, Jokic’s performances across the season have been, historically, MVP worthy yet again. His play in the last month, should it continue, would give him arguably one of the greatest seasons ever played in the NBA.
Take a seat and get comfy, Nikola.
LUKA DONCIC: 25.4ppg, 8.8rpg, 8.8apg, 1.2spg, 0.5bpg, 30.4% 3FG, W/L 29-22
GIANNIS ANTETOKOUMNPO: 28.8ppg, 11.3rpg, 5.9apg, 1.0spg, 1.4bpg, 28.5% 3FG, W/L 31-21
JOEL EMBIID: 29.1ppg, 10.8rpg, 4.4apg, 0.9spg, 1.4bpg, 36.6% 3FG, W/L 30-19
DEMAR DEROZAN: 26.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 4.9apg, 0.8spg, 0.3bpg, 33.8% 3FG, W/L 31-18
KEVIN DURANT: 29.3ppg, 7.4rpg, 5.8apg, 0.8spg, 0.9bpg, 37.2% 3FG, W/L 29-20
RUDY GOBERT: 16.0ppg, 15.1rpg, 1.2apg, 0.8spg, 2.3bpg, 0.0% 3FG, W/L 30-21
So, what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up? Let me know on twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send us an email at BMBTPodcast@gmail.com!
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