Who Da Real MVP?


David Dow

Kevin Durant gives his MVP award speech in 2014.

Chase Carty, Staff Writer

   The NBA MVP award was implemented in the 1955-1956 season. Most NBA fans could provide you with a couple basic facts about it. Kareem has won the most MVPs with six, and your uncle could tell you that Larry Bird won three in a row. Jokic has won the last two awards by recording a bunch of advanced stats that nobody cares about. However, no fan, analyst or even your uncle can tell you exactly what it takes to win the award because there isn’t any specific criteria that a player needs to follow.

   Some will tell you the award is heavily dependent on stats, which player is producing historical performances night in and night out? Some more traditional fans who don’t care about numbers will make the case that the best player on the team with the best record in their conference deserves the “Most Valuable Player” title. There are plenty of other ideas as to what the award entails, some of which piggyback and combine ideas concocted in the past.

   In recent years, it’s been pretty clear who the winner will be by the all-star break. In some cases we’ll get two players who stand out in the MVP race, and NBA fans are lucky enough to watch them battle it out until the regular season comes to a conclusion. This season, however, is unique, as every night we’re watching history be made by an entire roster worth of players.

   Last year we watched Joel Embiid take the 2021-22 scoring title when he averaged 30.6 points per game, terrorizing defenses with his seemingly endless bag of offensive maneuvers. He was the only player to average more than 30 points per game last season (LeBron did as well but didn’t play enough games to qualify.) In the two seasons before, only two players managed to average more than 30 a game. In most cases only one player accomplishes this feat, unless you want to consider those prehistoric instances where Wilt and those other cavemen dominated a bunch of slightly above average height mechanics.

   This season, there are six players averaging more than 30 points per game. That’s the same amount as the last 15 seasons combined. Yes, there are more 30+ PPG scorers just this season than in the last 15 seasons combined. Your local rec center’s most notorious old head may credit this to “all these young bucks chuckin’ up three-balls,” and whatnot but regardless this is absurd. 

  If you’ve ever scrolled upon a video of a cocky nine year old turning around shortly before air balling a 30 footer, Stephen Curry is indirectly responsible for that. On the topic of Stephen Curry, it’s general knowledge that he can shoot the basketball. As a matter of fact, he’s so good at shooting the basketball that he currently has a true shooting percentage of 70.1. If he maintains that efficiency, this would shatter the record (previously held by himself) for the best TS% while simultaneously averaging 30+ PPG. Although we’re only a quarter through the NBA season, Curry’s also on pace to having the best jump shooting season of all time. He is sixth on the MVP ladder. That isn’t due to poor analytics, or foolish voting by the media, the MVP race is just that competitive this season.

   At the age of six, Joel Embiid killed a lion in a Cameroonian jungle. One time he ate more than ten dozen chicken fingers in one sitting, and he consumes Shirley temples by the pitcher full. This has nothing to do with his ability to play basketball, but he’s pretty good at that too. Any basketball fan with access to at least one outlet of media heard about his historic performance against the Utah Jazz where he nearly recorded a 60 point quadruple double. A lot of box score brainlets will discredit Joel’s 59 point outing since 20 of those points came from free throws. Anyone who watched the game witnessed Joel’s dominance and dare I say.. value to the 76ers as he scored more than 56% of the entire team’s points.This wasn’t a one-time display of greatness, as Embiid is averaging 32 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and nearly 2 blocks this season. Assuming Embiid finishes the season averaging 30, 10, 5, and 2 blocks, he would be the first player in NBA history to officially accomplish this feat, (Wilt did this multiple times back when your grandparents were walking 20 miles a day to go to school, but they didn’t record blocks at the time). Joel Embiid is not even among the top 10 players to win the award. 

   So who is number one on this “ladder” then? As of Dec. 6, it’s Jayson Tatum. Tatum is currently averaging 31 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Some may argue that although Tatum’s statline is impressive, it’s not as impressive as Curry’s or Embiid’s. Now, I wouldn’t say that within the vicinity of one of those massholes who idolize Tatum and his soon-to-be Tik Tok celebrity of a son, but the difference between Tatum and the two players previously mentioned is team success. The Celtics possess the number one record in the NBA, as they’re 21-5 following their 27 point victory against the number 1 seed Phoenix Suns. Neither the Warriors or 76ers are in the playoff picture, and that’s what divides the players’ cases for the 2022-23 MVP award.

   As of now, I think that Tatum is deserving of the award. I prioritize winning when it comes to picking an MVP candidate, 30 points a game means nothing when your team barely notches .500 and annually gets swept in the first round of the playoffs, (I am a Washington Wizards fan.) This statement doesn’t mean I believe Luka isn’t worthy of the MVP hype he’s been receiving–he’s been averaging a historical 33, 9 and 9 this season. If he maintains this statline (which is likely), he’d be the first player to ever accomplish this feat. However, I only believe he deserves the award if he can lead the Mavericks to a 1, 2 or 3 seed. With that being said, between Tatum and that Slovenian carbon copy of 2019 James Harden over in Dallas, it should remain close for the rest of the season. However, due to the Celtics’ resounding success, I believe Tatum should bring the award home. 

   Plenty of other players are actively making their own cases to win MVP. Luka, LeBron, Jokic, Giannis, SGA, Booker, KD and AD. Unfortunately, only one of these historical seasons will be rewarded with an MVP this season.