Rolling MVP Guest List - April 1st (Final Results)
The final week or so of the season is finally upon us, and while teams jostle for Playoff seeding and tie-breakers, our attention turns to the races for the various awards the Association hands out every year.
Throughout the season, I have, once a month, given my updated MVP Guest List. Today is the final MVP Guest List and I will declare my 2022/2023 MVP.
Unlike previous lists, the guest list for The Table is in order from 4th place to my MVP winner. I have also completed the guest list down to the players who are at the bar from 5th place down to 10th place.
Before we get to the winner and various placings, a reminder of the rules I’ve played by all season, as well as a reminder of who was at the table and at the bar last month.
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 by sending an email to BMBTPodcast@gmail.com!
March 1st Guest List:
Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Domantas Sabonis – Sacramento Kings
Ja Morant – Memphis Grizzlies
DeÁaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets
Without further ado, as of April 1st, 2023, my MVP final guest list for the season, in order.
10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – 31.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 5.88apg, 1.7spg, 1.0bpg, 35.0% 3FG, W/L 37-38
I’m still a little upset that my love for SGA has been wasted as he plays for Oklahoma, not the LA Clippers, but his play this season has been impossible to ignore.
Always touted as a future All-Star, Shai finally delivered on that promise and took another leap this season despite highly touted draft pick Chet Holmgren failing to suit up alongside him.
He kept OKC afloat single-handedly at times this season with his scoring, and his defensive stats are proof he plays hard on both ends of the floor. Add in that this season was his most effective scoring season to date (season FG was 51.0%) and it’s clear that he didn’t just inflate his stats, but rather genuinely took a leap to an All-Star calibre player.
SGA elevated his game this season, becoming a first-time All_Star and finishing 10th in my MVP Guest List. Credit: Basketball Insider
If the Thunder’s record can improve next season and the team can stay healthy, SGA could rapidly rise up this table.
9. De’Aaron Fox – 25.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 6.1apg, 1.2spg, 0.3bpg, 33.8% 3FG, W/L 45-29
I struggled in ways to separate Fox and his teammate Sabonis for the sake of this list. I ended up placing Fox here and Sabonis a little higher mainly due to the latter’s more polished all-around game, but that doesn’t mean Fox isn’t deserving of recognition.
His electric speed helped propel the Kings to the most potent offense in NBA history this season and, like Gilgeous-Alexander, he managed to increase his scoring output while having a career-best percentage from the field.
I’m far from convinced on the Kings as a Playoff product, but if they go deep, Fox will be a major reason why.
8. Luka Doncic – 33.1ppg, 8.7rpg, 8.2apg, 1.4spg, 0.5bpg, 34.6% 3FG, W/L 37-39
My pre-season tip for MVP, Doncic has had an interesting season.
His play remains stellar and borderline god-like at times, but as usual, towards the end of the season, accumulative fatigue has slowed him down and the team bringing in Kyrie Irving for the stretch run appears to have done little to slow that.
In any case, Doncic has been the reason the Mavericks have flourished at times despite losing Jalen Brunson last off-season and is still where the buck starts and stops with the Mavericks.
He does possess a lower average plus-minus than others behind him on this list (namely SGA) at just +1.9pg, but I’d be a fool to have Doncic any further from the true contenders than this.
7. Kevin Durant – 29.5ppg, 6.8ppg, 5.2apg, 0.8spg, 1.5bpg, 37.6 3FG, W/L 39-35
It’s hard to evaluate Kevin Durant’s MVP candidacy this season for many reasons.
Firstly, he was an outstanding contributor on a team full of dysfunction to start the season in Brooklyn, then was traded to Phoenix while injured, and has spent the majority of his time in The Valley sidelined with various ailments.
When on the court, KD remains arguably the hardest defensive assignment in the League and any team with him on the roster is a genuine title contender, but his games played this season (under 50) makes it impossible to place him any higher on this list.
6. Domantas Sabonis – 19.1ppg, 12.5rpg, 7.3apg, 0.8spg, 0.5bpg, 35.4% 3FG, W/L 45-29
As I said earlier with Fox, Sabonis has his teammate to thank in part for his success and the success of the team. While it’s true no MVP winner does so alone with no running-mates, the comparison between Fox and Sabonis seems to place them far more as genuine co-stars than perhaps previous winners have been.
Sabonis has been excelling in multiple areas this season however, leading the league in rebounds in addition to averaging more assists than Fox on a per-game basis. He is second only to Nikola Jokic in overall triple doubles this season (eclipsing the far more fancied Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo in this area) and has been forced to be all things to all people at times this season.
The Kings were relevant for the first time in over a decade this season, largely due to Sabonis.
The Kings overall record also helps him place higher on this list than some other candidates.
5. Ja Morant – 26.8ppg, 5.8rpg, 8.1apg, 1.1spg, 0.3bpg, 31.2% 3FG, W/L 47-27
I pondered about where I would place Morant this season as an MVP candidate.
The purist in me suggests that I shouldn’t take his off-court antics into account other than to make a point about the games he has missed, but I’ve found it hard to do that. In my eyes, part of being an MVP of the League is the way you lead your team, and while leadership comes in all different models, it’s clear Morant has failed in that department.
When on the court, he continues his rise to super-stardom and the numbers are all there. The Grizzlies are towards the top of an ever-increasingly competitive Western Conference and for that I’ll give him his place in 5th, but the end potion of his season let down what was otherwise a potentially genuine MVP calibre campaign.
4. Joel Embiid – 33.6ppg, 10.2rpg, 4.2apg, 1.1spg, 1.7bpg, 34.1% 3FG, W/L 49-25
Joel Embiid is probably the player I have the hardest time placing in this list.
On one hand, he's been at the top of his game for several seasons and has lead the Sixers to great winning records in each of them. He's charismatic, he possess all the tools to dominate on both ends (and often does) and backs down from nobody.
He lead the league in scoring this season for the second consecutive year, he does everything you want from a big man on defence while setting the tone offensively and remains the teams undisputed best player. When it comes to the top end of this list however, the smallest nuances and differences are what make or break an MVP campaign and Embiid's team has the worst record out of the top four on this list.
3. Jayson Tatum – 30.1ppg, 8.9rpg, 4.7apg, 1.0spg, 0.7bpg, 34.4% 3FG, W/L 52-23
Tatum started the season in a blaze of glory, much like the Celtics themselves. I even had him as a borderline runaway winner of this award at the start of 2023, but things have soured slightly in the back half of the season.
Nonetheless, Tatum has been a force on both ends, but particularly as a scorer, this season and has logged career highs in FG%, rebounds and assists. He’s the undisputed alpha for Boston and has taken his game to a new level this season.
Jayson Tatum holding the All-Star Game MVP Trophy in Salt Lake City. Credit: MARCA
While the Celtics were the #1 seed in the East, this award was close to his, but recent stumbles have cost him and he finishes third.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo – 31.1ppg, 11.7rpg, 5.6apg, 0.8spg, 0.8bpg, 28.5% 3FG, W/L 54-21
This is the case every season. We start to forget and take for granted some of the elite performances we see night in, night out from some players – Giannis is one of those players.
The numbers continue to jump off the page for Giannis and the Bucks have recently acquired (and look like finishing with) the best record in the Eastern Conference. This is despite the absence of Khris Middleton for the majority of the season through injury.
Last season, Nikola Jokic’s case for back-to-back MVP’s was built on the logic he did more with less compared to the season prior. The same argument could be made for Antetokounmpo, but he falls just short this season.
1. Nikola Jokic – 24.9ppg, 11.8rpg, 9.9apg, 1.3spg, 0.6bpg, 39.0% 3FG, W/L 50-24
Cue the rage-quitting from the brigade of Jokic followers, but there is no doubt that his play this season has been worthy of a third consecutive MVP.
The number are there. The overall record is there. The percentages are there. The only thing that isn’t? The flair or sexy factor. Sure, Jokic doesn’t shatter the arena floor with powerful dunks or electrify the crowd with half-court threes, but rather he expertly acknowledges and picks apart any slight weakness in the defence to make everyone else on his team better. His basketball IQ is often overlooked and rarely spoken about by the average fan, but when a guy exhibits such a lack of athleticism like he does, he has to have something else in his bag to get by.
The Nuggets have the best record in the Western Conference and while Milwaukee have the best record in the League, I know that I’d rather have had Jokic on my team than Giannis, Tatum or Embiid this season.
To wrap up, if you’re a Jokic hater and think that his MVP case is mounted on nerd-like advanced metrics, I suggest you watch the game a little closer. He manipulates opponents like few others in the history of the game have been able to and does so while making everyone around him better, and it results in winning basketball.
I've got Jokic taking home his third consecutive MVP Award this season. Credit: Sporting News
So what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up?
Let me know by signing up for an account and commenting on this post, or by emailing the show at email@example.com!
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