It feels a little weird to be talking about regular season awards when all signs point to the regular season being shortened or cancelled altogether, but alas, here we are. After the NBA finally finishes the 2019-20 season — whenever that may be — we’ll find out which player got the most votes for MVP: LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo?
There will undoubtedly be a few other players that get first place votes for MVP, but James and Antetokounmpo have been the two favorites all year long, and there’s no reason to believe the NBA’s hiatus has changed that. However, the season’s suspension also didn’t make the debate any easier.
While some feel that the jump Antetokounmpo made from this season to last season — when he won his first league MVP — is enough to warrant another MVP award, others, like Damian Lillard, think the production James is providing at his age deserves some recognition. Here’s what Lillard had to say on the most recent episode of ESPN’s “Jalen & Jacoby”:
“This season, I think it’s LeBron. You know, they’re the No. 1 team in the west, they’ve been consistent all year long, and for him to be at the age he’s at, with the amount of miles he has on his body, how often he’s talked about, the pressure they put on him with every little thing that he does, and the level that he’s performing at, I feel like — in my opinion — he’s the MVP.”
It feels like every case for James’ MVP candidacy stars with his age, and while I think that’s definitely a point worth noting, what James has done this season is incredible for any age group. If James’ stat line holds, he’ll become just the second player in NBA history to average at least 25 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds per game while averaging less than 35 minutes per game. The only other player to accomplish that feat is Russell Westbrook, and he did when he won the MVP in the 2017.
That being said, what Antetokounmpo has done this season is also historic. With averages of 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block per game, Antetokounmpo is putting up numbers that only Wilt Chamberlain has put up in his career — that is insane.
One fanbase will feel slighted no matter who wins the award, but the reality is, both players are deserving. I guess we’ll find out which player voters thought was the most deserving later this year.