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Rob’s Rolling MVP Guest List – November 1st

Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1

As the first page of the NBA season turns and we are thrust into November, it’s the time of year where NBA fans begin to make their case for just who should be crowned the League’s Most Valuable Player.

Is it far too early to be speculating on any award, let alone the MVP? Absolutely.


Doing so this early in the season allows for some names that we wouldn’t normally see in the conversation to rise to the top, due in large part to the small sample size we’ve seen thus far. 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 to start the season and deserve recognition for doing so.


For the sake of consistency throughout the season, I’m going to set some ground rules, including a metaphor which outlines how I approach deciding who is at the MVP Table.

  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!

Without further ado, as of November 1st, 2021, my MVP guest list is as below.

The Table:

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies.

28.7ppg, 5.2rpg , 7.7apg, 1.8spg, 0.3bpg, 38.9% 3FG, W/L 3-3.

Ja Morant has simply been unstoppable to start the season, helping the Memphis Grizzlies become a must-watch League Pass team and featuring in some of the most entertaining games we’ve seen thus far.

The third-year guard has taken his game to another level, not only showing improvement statistically, but also to the naked eye. His equal league-leading 28.7 points per game represents a massive 9.6ppg increase over last season, and he is also currently setting career highs in three point percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, field goal attempts and field goal percentage.

As gaudy as the numbers are, however, it’s the eye test where Morant is truly shining. His improvement in shooting from the perimeter is completely opening up the rest of his game, allowing him to find easier baskets and utilise perhaps his greatest skill-set – the ability to beat his defender off the dribble, use change of pace to freeze the big and then finish at the rim or kick to an open shooter.

Ja Morant has done everything for the Grizzlies to start the season. Credit: CBS Sports

Morant has been helped by the presence of running mate Jaren Jackson Jr, who has returned to the team following injuries as a welcome inside-outside threat. He has also had ample help from the fast starting De’Anthony Melton and grizzled veteran Steven Adam, amongst others. However, the Grizzlies start and stop with Morant, as seen by his 31.8% usage rate through the first six games – a rate which puts him in the Top 20 league-wide, and sees him as the lone Grizzlies representative in the Top 60.

One of the factors working against Morant is the team’s record, which stands at a winning percentage of just .500, at 3-3. Morant has been stellar, however, leading his team in scoring in five of their six outings, leading the team in assists in every game, and even claiming a team-high nine rebounds in a loss to Portland. It’s also worth noting that one of their wins was against the Golden State Warriors, in overtime, on the second night of a road back-to-back. That victory stands as the Warriors’ lone loss so far this season.

Morant is also co-leading the NBA in points in the paint per game, tying Anthony Davis at 16.0ppg and being the smallest player to make the list.

He deserves his spot at the table.

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets.

24.0ppg, 14.8rpg, 5.5apg, 1.7spg, 0.7bpg, 42.3% 3FG, W/L 4-2.

It’s not often the reigning MVP begins the season with these types of performances, and his team is almost completely ignored by the national media, but that is the case with Denver.

Perhaps it’s the knowledge Jamal Murray is still recovering from his ACL tear, perhaps it’s that Denver simply isn’t a traditional big market, or perhaps it’s the Jokic started the season on the eighth line of betting for the MVP according to Vegas, but those who have tuned in to watch Nuggets games have been rewarded with truly blistering performances.

The Nuggets currently have a win-loss record of 4-2, good enough for third in the Western Conference, but honestly, you’d be hard pressed to mount a case that any member of the team not named Nikola has been able to carry the team for even a single quarter so far this season. Jokic has simply been THAT good.

Despite leaving the Nuggets game against the Jazz after just 15 minutes, Jokic has put up absurd numbers. Credit: Deseret News.

The statistics Jokic is putting up already look ridiculous, and could be even more so if not for a collision of knees with Jazz big man Rudy Gobert which kept him from returning in the second half of their loss. In just 15 minutes, Jokic had amassed 24 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists – good enough to lead the team in points and assists, despite others such as Michael Porter Jr logging as many as 38 minutes.

The Nuggets have also faced three teams with winning records, in addition to the reigning conference Champion Phoenix Suns, who they easily accounted for on opening night. Package this with the fact they recently accounted for both Dallas and Minnesota on a back-to-back, both of whom have winning records, and it’s plain as day that Jokic deserves his spot at the table.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks.

27.7ppg, 11.8rpg, 6apg, 0.8spg, 1.7bpg, 30.0% 3FG, W/L 3-4.

My pre-season tip for MVP, Giannis has continued where he left off after winning the Championship in June. Few players in history have boasted the combination of size, strength and speed Antetokounmpo does, and his ability to will his team into any game is proof of that.

By now, Giannis is a victim of his own success. We all see the numbers and take them for granted. Already a two-time MVP, Giannis is relentless in his pursuit to improve his game down to the smallest detail, as seen by his change in free-throw routine which has, so far, seen as much as a seven percent jump in his success at the charity stripe from the last two seasons.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has continued his stellar form from last season’s Championship run. Credit: ESPN

The Bucks record is currently underwhelming, sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference with a record of just 3-4, however Giannis has been stellar regardless of the results. It’s also worth noting that Jrue Holiday has missed majority of the team’s games after a heel injury in their opening night win over Conference favourites Brooklyn, and starting big Brook Lopez has missed their past four games with a back injury. Even Kris Middleton has had time away from the team, ruled out of their loss against the Jazz with illness.

Giannis has been everything for this team and won’t be left without a seat at the table due to a lacklustre team record. The timing of injuries and absences to key contributors for the Bucks is the main reason for their sub-par record, and couldn’t have come at a worse time considering the team has faced four teams with winning records in their opening seven games.

It’s business as usual for Antetokounmpo and I will be shocked if he loses his place at the table at any stage this season. Once the team finds health and the winning record returns, the Bucks superstar will have an even stronger case as he attempts to claim a third MVP.

Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers.

27.6ppg, 7.8rpg, 3.6apg, 3.4spg, 0.4bpg, 37.5% 3FG, W/L 1-4.

The only player to have a seat at the table whose team has a losing record, Paul George will likely be overlooked going forward unless the Clippers can drastically change their fortunes.

George has been the only constant on a team which is still trying to find itself with a host of missing and new personnel. The loss of Kawhi Leonard continued to dominate the headlines over the off-season, but the teams offensive system has completely changed with Eric Bledsoe coming in and the team lacking a steady defensive big in the absence of Serge Ibaka.

George’s numbers are certainly worthy of being in the MVP conversation, but he edges out some others to get a seat at the table due to a couple of factors. The first is the aforementioned lack of help he has on this team – without his contributions the Clippers would likely have been a basket-case to start the season, if they weren’t already.

Paul George has received no help so far this season, despite dominating on both ends. Credit: Fox Sports.

The second of which is the defensive grunt he provides, as seen by his league-leading 3.4 steals per contest. While that number is likely to drop off and was inflated by a stellar eight steal game against Portland, it highlights that George is currently the best player on both ends of the floor for LA, and by a wide margin.

The Clippers haven’t had the hardest schedule to start the season either, which hurts George’s case, but they were within a basket of taking down Golden State and narrowly fell short against the Grizzlies. Their next three games also present three prime opportunities for wins, facing Oklahoma City and then Minnesota twice, which could make the teams record less of a factor going forward.

While the Clippers have been disappointing, George deserves recognition for fighting like hell to keep his team afloat, even if he has received zero help from every other player on his team. I doubt he will still be at the table in a month, but for now, George deserves his spot.

The Bar:

Montrezl Harrell – 19.3ppg, 10.2rpg, 1.8apg, 0.5spg, 1.2bpg, 20% 3FG, W/L 5-1.

Steph Curry – 28.7ppg, 7.5rpg, 6.5apg, 1.5spg, 0.3bpg, 39.7% 3FG, W/L 5-1.

LaMelo Ball – 17.3ppg, 5.5rpg, 6.0apg, 1.7spg, 0.3bpg, 40.5% 3FG, W/L 5-2.

Kevin Durant – 28.5ppg, 10.2rpg, 5.3apg, 1.0spg, 0.8bpg, 35.7% 3FG, W/L 4-2.

Jimmy Butler – 25.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 5.5apg, 2.8spg, 0.3bpg, 37.5% 3FG, W/L 5-1.

Anthony Davis – 26.2ppg, 11.2rpg, 2.7apg, 0.7spg, 2.5bpg, 18.8% 3FG, W/L 3-3.

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