Have we ever lost a big favorite for the title of regular season MVP? Last year, it was Joel Embiid and LeBron James who let go during the season due to injury, and this year, the big loser could be Kevin Durant. At the top of your mid-season votes and the NBA’s leading scorer, the Nets winger injured his left knee and could miss up to a month and a half of competition.
In the worst case, Kevin Durant should return after the All-Star Game, at the end of February. Which means he will have missed between 15 and 18 games in a row! By way of comparison, CJ McCollum has just missed 17 matches, and it is also the number of matches already missed by Anthony Davis whose return is still not scheduled.
Seventeen matches is more than 20% of the regular season, and as Kevin Durant has already missed 7 matches this season, he could therefore flirt with the 25 matches spent away from the field. We were therefore closer to a third of the season. In history, only Bill Walton was voted regular season MVP by missing a third of the regular season. It was 1978, and Luke’s father had missed the entire end of the season with a foot injury. The voters had therefore retained his impressive domination until the end of February: 50 wins for 10 losses for Portland.
Eleven missed matches, the maximum for an MVP since 1978!
This year, the Nets are not dominating their subject like the Blazers in 1978, and is that prohibitive to be voted MVP? Clearly, the answer is “yes” if we take a look at MVPs over the past 30 years. Thus, Allen Iverson is the only one to have been elected MVP after having missed more than 10 matches (11 exactly). Since 2001, all the other MVPs have missed 10 games or less, such as James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo crowned in 2018 and 2019 with 72 games played out of 82.
Last season, Nikola Jokic won the MVP title by playing 72 out of 72 matches! In 2020, in a season marked by a suspension of several months, Giannis Antetokoumpo had played 63 out of 73 matches. Again, we find this threshold of 10 missed matches.
Mid-season, Kevin Durant no longer seems able to join the race for the MVP trophy, and he is not the only one. Paul George has already missed far too many matches. Ditto for Jimmy Butler who has already missed 19 matches out of 44. It is very limited for Luka Doncic who has missed 16 matches out of 44. It is also limited for Joel Embiid, who has missed 12 matches out of 43.
But voters could be more lenient this season since the Omicron wave affected more than 300 players, and that will have to be taken into account when voting. Each player affected by the virus missed between 5 and 10 days of competition. Sometimes more. Matches have been postponed… Voters should therefore be more tolerant, and players who miss more than 10 matches could therefore join the fight for the trophy until the end. We think of Ja Morant, who has already missed 13 games, but whose Grizzlies have a better record than the number 1 in the Eastern Conference!
1 – Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Assessment: 22 wins, 20 losses – 6th in the West.
Matches: 37 disputed out of 42 possible.
Statistics: 25.3 pts, 13.9 reb, 7.4 pds, 1.3 int, 0.8 ctr and 3.6 pdb in 33 min.
Percentages: 57% on shots, 36% on 3-pointers and 78% on throws.
2 – Kevin Durant (Nets)
Assessment: 27 wins, 16 losses – 3rd in the East.
Matches: 36 disputed out of 43 possible.
Statistics: 29.3 pts, 7.4 reb, 5.8 pds, 0.8 int, 0.9 ctr and 3.0 pdb in 37 min.
Percentages: 52% on shots, 37% on 3-pointers and 89% on throws.
3 – Stephen Curry (Warriors)
Assessment: 31 wins, 12 losses – 2nd in the West.
Matches: 39 disputed out of 43 possible.
Statistics: 26.3 pts, 5.4 reb, 6.0 pds, 1.4 int, 0.5 ctr and 3.4 pdb in 35 min.
Percentages: 42% on shots, 38% on 3-pointers and 91% on throws.
4 – DeMar DeRozan (Bulls)
Assessment: 27 wins, 15 losses – 1st in the East.
Matches: 38 disputed out of 42 possible.
Statistics: 25.7 pts, 5.2 reb, 4.7 pds, 0.8 int, 0.3 ctr and 2.1 pdb in 35 min.
Percentages: 49% on shots, 35% on 3-pointers and 86% on throws.
5 – Joel Embiid (Sixers)
Assessment: 25 wins, 18 losses – 6th in the East.
Matches: 31 disputed out of 43 possible.
Statistics: 27.2 pts, 10.6 reb, 4.3 pds, 1.1 int, 1.4 ctr and 2.9 pdb in 33 min.
Percentages: 48% on shots, 37% on 3-pointers and 81% on throws.
The rest of the Top 10 : Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), LeBron James (Lakers), Ja Morant (Grizzlies), Chris Paul and Devin Booker (Suns), Rudy Gobert (Jazz).