The NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, started in 1956, has seen numerous winners for the Maurice Podoloff trophy which is given to the winner of the award and is named after the very first Commissioner, or the-then President of the National Basketball Association.
Over the years, the award has had as recipients some of the greatest names in basketball. While some had generation-defying athletic capabilities, there were others with the most skilled gameplay to have ever occurred in history of the game.
The 2019-2020 season was unexpected to say the least. With the coronavirus pandemic putting a halt to the season which later continued inside a bio-bubble, many promising names heard during the initial days of the season were unheard towards the end, while few saw a meteoric rise in their performance graphs.
Below listed are the possible frontrunners for the MVP awards in 2020:
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks): ‘The Greek Freak’ has had a blast of a season in 2019. The Bucks hope for a resurgence and a championship run this year supported on the shoulders of Antetokounmpo. He is, currently, the only player in the league ranked first within top 10 for both points (29.5, first) and rebounds (13.6, first).
Furthermore, last 10 MVPs came from squads claiming the league’s overall top record. With Bucks expecting to clinch that spot for the third consecutive time, it puts Antetokounmpo in line for a third straight MVP. The issue of voters, however, is that anything short of a record-breaking single season winning percentage will lead their attention elsewhere.
2. Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks): Though the Mavericks were terrible in the clutch, as Dallas lost 24 games featuring situations defined as clutch by NBA, they turned out to be number seven seeds. Luka Doncic, on the other hand, is already an All-NBA-first team selection.
Having near-triple double averages to his name from a season ago could potentially be MVP-worthy statistics. Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in his first season. With another step forward in 2021, it is not at all a difficult scenario, imagining Doncic as one of the contenders for the title of MVP.
3. Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers): Lakers this season have what might be termed as an ‘issue of plenty’. From the looks of it, LeBron James will not be getting an MVP candidature because it might just be the Lakers’ planning for the year, with two young and dynamic strikers such as Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell in the squad driving the offense. Apparently, James’ reasoning last year that the team played sub-par offensively without him is going to be negated this time around with the two younger additions.
This veers the conversations towards Anthony Davis, who might just enter the season, in a turn from his Point Guard and Power Forward in a new role as the defensive player of the year, with plenty of time in his hands without James to showcase his gift. Davis finished second for last year’s Defensive Player of the Year. If the big man manages to bring to the table the efficiency showcased at playoffs the last time, he’s likely to be one of the top contenders for the MVP candidature.
4. James Harden (Houston Rockets): Brandishing three runner-up finishes (2015, 2017 and 2019) and receiving the MVP award in the 2017-2018 season speaks for itself, but unfortunately does not do much to help the case for Harden in the present scenario. With Russell Westbrook producing a stunning performance in his first season, Harden arguably has not been the best in the Rockets squad, let alone the league. The main factor that has largely affected Harden in getting towards stardom has been his difficulty in carrying regular-season standards into the playoffs, stemming from a one-dimensional performance in the age of two-way stars with multifarious capabilities.
This disadvantage, so to say, keeps hacking at the MVP narrative the Rockets try to build around him every season, which he apparently misses out on repeatedly. In 2014-2015, the margin between Harden and Stephen Curry was 262 points, which, in ’16-’17 and ’19-’20 respectively, were 135 points against Westbrook and 165 against Antetokounmpo. In his MVP season, Harden ended up 227 points ahead of LeBron James.
Below listed are the odds for all five players to become MVP top contenders (all figures as per sportsbettingdime.com) :
Giannis Antetokounmpo: +480
Luka Doncic: +410
Anthony Davis: +850
James Harden: +1000