Rob’s Rolling MVP Guest List – March 1
Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1
March has arrived and that means it’s time for madness!
The All-Star festivities are done and while there is no guarantee the Dunk Contest will be back next year after a dismal display, one thing you can count on to continue returning is my Rolling MVP Guest List!
As always, before I get into my rolling MVP Guest List for March 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 February 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!
February 1st Guest List:
Chris Paul – Phoenix Suns
Ja Morant – Memphis Grizzlies
Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors
Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
Giannis Antetokoumnpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
DeMar Derozan – Chicago Bulls
Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets
Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
Without further ado, as of March 1st, 2022, my MVP guest list:
Chris Paul: 14.9ppg, 4.5rpg, 10.7apg, 1.9spg, 0.3bpg, 33.0% 3FG, W/L 49-12
I once again have Chris Paul sitting at the table, but this is likely for the final time this season following the Suns announcement the All-Star will miss 6-8 weeks with a thumb injury.
It’s a horrible blow for Paul, whose health has been a key factor in helping Phoenix to the league’s best record at 49-12 to this point. Unfortunate as it is though, it’s not an uncommon occurrence with the aging point guard.
Despite a clean bill of health up until this injury for the entire season, including not missing a single game through Health and Safety protocols, Paul’s Achilles heel (no pun intended) remains his propensity to get injured at the worst times. We saw it with his hamstring in Houston as the team was on the verge of eliminating the Warriors and several times during playoff runs with the Los Angeles Clippers, in addition to a shoulder injury during the post-season last year despite the team making it to the Finals.
Chris Paul’s thumb injury will likely end his MVP candidacy as the Suns push to the Playoffs. Credit: Flipboard
When healthy, Paul remains the glue that helps the Suns function and while they are not in any real danger of dropping significantly in the Western Conference, Paul’s expected return date is essentially the start of the Post-Season. That timeline means he will likely drop out of my (and everyone else’s) MVP considerations by the time the votes are counted, but this doesn’t mean we should forget how legitimate a candidate he has been to this point in the season.
Nikola Jokic: 25.5ppg, 13.8rpg, 8.0apg, 1.4spg, 0.7bpg, 36.4% 3FG, W/L 35-25
According to Basketball Reference, Jokic continues to firm as this season’s MVP, and for good reason. The reigning Most Valuable Player basically has the same averages as last season, but has managed to increase his rebounding to nearly fourteen a game.
In addition this this, Jokic has been able to keep the Nuggets, with little to no help, out of the play-in Tournament slots to this point. With the team four games clear of Minnesota and five game clear of the LA Clippers, I’d expect to see them finish there, if not higher.
As for Jokic’s last month, his totals have eased off a little from a border-line historic performance in January, but he remains beyond elite, only needing 33 minutes a game to record 25 points, 14 rebounds, 9 assists and a steal every time he steps onto the court. The Nuggets have won seven of their last nine in games he has featured in, and his ability to facilitate, pass out of double teams, spread the floor and crash the boards remains almost unmatched as a skill-set combination.
Nikola Jokic continues to play at an elite level for Denver – as he has all season. Credit: Nugg Love
We know what we are getting from Jokic every time out, just like we have all season. His consistency and importance to the Nuggets has been on show all season, and he’s done it with arguably the least help of any MVP candidate in recent years. With reports Michael Porter Jr could return to action this month, Jokic could see his play improve again as talent returns around him.
Ja Morant: 27.1ppg, 5.9rpg, 6.7apg, 1.2spg, 0.4bpg, 33.2% 3FG, W/L 42-20
For the second consecutive month, and third time overall this season, Ja Morant is at the table!
It’s always impressive when a player returns from the summer with new and varied facets to their game improved, but Ja has done that and more. He remains as confident as ever on the court, but I almost feel like we’ve seen two versions of Ja this season – the pre-injury and post-injury Ja Morant.
Before his injury in early December, we saw a player who has improved from the previous season and looked like he was the best player on an up-and-coming squad looking to make some noise. Since the injury, however, Ja has not only looked like the Grizzlies best player, but a General of sorts. A leader of men. A player who is willing to do whatever it takes to propel his team into positions to win games, and it’s showing in their record.
Despite many of his numbers remaining similar pre and post injury with the exception of points (+4.9ppg), Morant’s on-floor impact has increased in many ways. His plus-minus shows this very clearly, where pre-injury he averaged a -4.4 per game, and since returning on December 20th, he’s average +7.8 per game. Without getting bogged down into advanced metrics, a quick reminder form last month’s Guest List that the NBA average is 0.0, and an average of +8.0 across a season puts any player on par with the greatest individual seasons of Hall of Famers and Top 75 members like Dirk and Shaq.
Ja Morant has elevated his game significantly as a leader since returning from injury. Credit: Fadeway World
When the Grizzlies catapulted to the third seed on the back of a stellar run in the back end of December and start of January, I had concerns about whether a team this young could sustain their performances. The team, and specifically Ja Morant, have alleviated any concerns I had about their regular season play, and now myself and the world wait to see whether that game style can translate into the post-season.
Joel Embiid: 29.8ppg, 11.1rpg, 4.4apg, 1.0spg, 1.4bpg, 36.7% 3FG, W/L 37-23
I won’t lie – I have been holding off on putting Embiid at the table for a couple of months. If you look back at my Guest Lists from February and January, you’ll see Embiid didn’t warrant a mention even at the bar for January, but was in the building for February. It’s undeniable now, he’s at the table.
I was hesitant to place Embiid at the table due to a hot start to the season and then the fact the team faltered in November after leading the East. I wanted to see him crush and kill any opponent he came across, as an individual and a team, and he’s been doing that consistently for a number of months now. Embiid has also been a mainstay for the team this season after several years plagued by injuries, missing only 11 games, the heavy majority of which were in November.
While Jokic is the representation of the new-era big man – a versatile big who scores and creates for others using skill and finesse, Embiid represents a hybrid of the old guard and the new. He’s got enough play-making skill to keep doubling defences honest, can shoot from outside and mid-range, but also punishes any physically or mentally weaker opponent inside by dominating with power and size.
Joel Embiid play has made it impossible to leave him off this list. Credit: USA Today’s FTW
Embiid’s season has been so good it forced Daryl Morey’s hand in trading for James Harden to try and get him some help for a post-season run. I’m not yet convinced Embiid’s body of work for the season can see him genuinely win the award, especially with other candidates having similar or better team records, but with roughly a third of the season left and recency-bias strong amongst voters, there’s a chance.
He deserves to finally get his spot at the table.
STEPH CURRY: 25.7ppg, 5.5rpg, 6.3apg, 1.5spg, 0.4bpg, 37.6% 3FG, w/l 43-17
GIANNIS ANTETOKOUMNPO: 28.8ppg, 11.3rpg, 5.9apg, 1.0spg, 1.4bpg, 28.5% 3FG, w/l 36-25
DEMAR DEROZAN: 26.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 4.9apg, 0.8spg, 0.3bpg, 33.8% 3FG, w/l 39-22
LUKA DONCIC: 27.6ppg, 9.2rpg, 8.9apg, 1.2spg, 0.5bpg, 33.5% 3FG, w/l 35-25
KEVIN DURANT: 29.3ppg, 7.4rpg, 5.8apg, 0.8spg, 0.9bpg, 37.2% 3FG, w/l 32-29
RUDY GOBERT: 15.6ppg, 14.8rpg, 1.2apg, 0.7spg, 2.3bpg, 0.0% 3FG, w/l 38-22
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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