For more than a decade now, DNA of Sports has been offering you its Top 5 candidates for the “Most Valuable Player” trophy (MVP)”. This week, it was obviously impossible for us not to mention the various statistical cards that have occurred since the start of the season and, more particularly, for a few days.
Between the 60 dots (with 21 rebounds and 10 assists) from Luka Doncic (also author of spikes at 51 and 50 units recently), the 47 dots (with 10 rebounds and 9 assists) from LeBron James, the 43 points (with 20 rebounds and 5 assists) from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 42 points (with 10 rebounds and 5 assists) from DeMar DeRozan, or now the 71 dots (with 8 rebounds and 11 assists) by Donovan Mitchell, as well as the 54 dots by Klay Thompson, a rain of XXL performances fell on the NBA in the space of a week.
Shovel of boxes
Let’s not forget, either, the benefit to 58 dots of Devin Booker, the one to 55 dots (and 17 rebounds) from Anthony Davis, the one to 53 dots (and 12 rebounds) from Joel Embiid, the one to 52 dots (with 9 rebounds and 7 assists) from Pascal Siakam, those in 43/14/8/5, 41/15/15 and 40/27/10 from Nikola Jokic, or those at 44 then 41 points from Jayson Tatum, also all occurred in December!
With these different heat strokes, we would have almost forgotten the 49 dots (and 8 assists) by Ja Morant and the 82 dots duo Donovan Mitchell – Caris LeVert in October, as well as the 47 dots (with 8 rebounds and 8 assists) by Stephen Curry, the 59 stitches (with 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 blocks) from Joel Embiid, or the 45 dots by Kevin Durant in November…
Suffice to say that the NBA forwards have had a very, very hot hand since the start of this 2022/23 season and that it has not calmed down since the beginning of November.
The proof is: this quite simply historic month of December 2022, during which a total of 45 matches at 40+ points were counted. This is no less than a new record for any month, ahead of the total of 37 games at 40+ points in December 1961.
Attacks at the party
Note also that 12 players have made at least two games at 40+ points in December 2022 and this is, again, a new record over one month, ahead of February 1962 (with “only” 7 players who played several games at 40+ points).
More generally, we currently identify 87 games at 40+ points in 2022/23 (divided into 33 players), while we still haven’t reached the halfway mark. The record of 142 games at 40+ points, established in 1961/62 (and divided between 13 players), is therefore largely achievable, because half the way is already done…
On the other hand, as regards the record of 57 games at 50+ points over a season, which dates from the financial year… 1961/62, it will probably still be necessary to wait, because there are currently only 13 in 2022/23. On the other hand, the “modern era” record (since the 1976 ABA/NBA merger) is likely to be broken, as it stands since the 2019/20 campaign at 23 games at 50+ points.
Moreover, when we look at the individual scoring averages, we see that 54 players are posting 20+ points per gamethat 20 players post 25+ points per game and 6 players are posting 30+ points per game. This is a record each time, ahead of 2020/21’s 43+ 20+ point average and 2020/21’s 17 25+ point average (again), but tied with 6 30+ point average players from 1961/62.
Additionally, two players (Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid) are currently touring 33+ points per game and, if they continue their momentum, it would only be the fifth time, after 1960/61, 1961/62, 1962/63 and 2005/06, that two players have posted such an average of such points in the same season…
Absent defences… or ever more effective attacks?
To finish confirming that we are witnessing a historic exercise in scoring, we also note that there had never been such a high average “offensive rating” as in 2022/23: 113.5 points scored on 100 possessionsahead of 112.3 in the 2020/21 campaign and 112.0 in the 2021/22 campaign.
The teams’ overall address (or “effective field goal percentage”, which takes into account the fact that a 3-pt shot is worth 1.5 times more points than a 2-pt shot) also has no , never been more important than this season: 54.1% eFG%ahead of 53.8% in 2020/21 and 53.2% in 2021/22.
Of course, the evolution of the league, where attacks more easily take precedence over defenses, surely irritates lovers of the physical, rough and defensive NBA of a few decades ago.
But are we not also faced with an ultimately logical evolution, with players who are always better equipped technically, tactically and physically, compared to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or even 70 years ago, thanks to everything they now benefit from to improve and work on their game?
Race to the MVP 2023: our Top 5
1 – Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Assessment: 24 wins, 13 losses – 1st in the West.
Matches: 34 disputed out of 37 possible.
Statistics: 25.6 pts, 10.8 reb, 9.5 ft, 1.4 int, 0.6 ctr and 3.4 ft in 34 min.
Percentages: 62% shooting, 35% 3-point and 81% throwing.
2 – Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
Assessment: 26 wins, 11 losses – 1st in the East.
Matches: 35 disputed out of 37 possible.
Statistics: 30.9 pts, 8.1 reb, 4.1 pds, 1.2 int, 0.9 ctr and 2.7 pdb in 37 min.
Percentages: 47% on shots, 35% at 3-pts and 86% on throws.
3 – Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
Assessment: 22 wins, 16 losses – 4th in the West.
Matches: 35 disputed out of 38 possible.
Statistics: 34.3 pts, 8.8 reb, 8.9 pds, 1.7 int, 0.6 ctr and 3.6 pdb in 37 min.
Percentages: 51% on shots, 36% at 3-pts and 74% on throws.
4 – Kevin Durant (Nets)
Assessment: 25 wins, 12 losses – 2nd in the East.
Matches: 36 disputed out of 37 possible.
Statistics: 29.6 pts, 6.8 reb, 5.5 pds, 0.8 int, 1.5 ctr and 3.5 pdb in 36 min.
Percentages: 56% shooting, 36% 3-point and 93% throwing.
5 – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
Assessment: 23 wins, 13 losses – 3rd in the East.
Matches: 30 disputed out of 36 possible.
Statistics: 32.1 pts, 11.8 reb, 5.2 ft, 0.9 int, 0.9 ctr and 3.8 ft in 34 min.
Percentages: 53% shooting, 25% 3-pt and 65% throwing.
Mentions : Joel Embiid (Sixers), Ja Morant (Grizzlies), Zion Williamson (Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers), Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers)…