The 2020 NBA MVP is over and in this episode I will explain in detail why. Regardless of what criteria we use Giannis is the winner by a mile.
Sometimes in the NBA award landscape, there is simply no need for debate. When one preeminent superstar soars above his contemporaries in such a convincing manner, those covering the league aren’t required to spend March and April fabricating a close battle.
Looking back to 2016, the only argument worth having was determining second-place. Stephen Curry completed an unprecedented season, winning 89.9% of the games he appeared in (71-8) while averaging 30 points and joining the 50-40-90 club. It led to the first unanimous decision. This was after Curry already breezed through the 2014-15 season, capturing his first MVP in another blowout vote.
Overall, the outside perception of a close race hasn’t mattered in the end. There is usually one candidate that separates himself, whether that’s in January or during a late-season push.
Since the voting process is on a points-based system, with fewer points awarded to those who finish lower on the five-player ballot, the results rarely indicate a close competition. Over the last six seasons, the average proportion of first-place votes landed by the NBA MVP winner has been 84.3%, with the lowest being Westbrook’s 2017 victory – which was still a meaningful margin. The average gap in total points between first and second place has been 301, with the smallest being the 2017 race (135).
Whether it’s because of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s location in a small-market, LeBron’s longevity, or the slightly stronger Western Conference, this strange idea of the 2020 MVP being a “tough choice” has surfaced and I find it laughable.
While it may come across as reductive to suggest an award race is over with 25-plus games remaining, let’s not forget this isn’t abnormal. It would be more bizarre if there wasn’t a clear-cut winner, based on the modern history of the MVP.
Going by “most outstanding,” which is how the award is determined nearly every time, nobody is touching the 25-year-old Antetokounmpo. He’s on the verge of being the 14th player in history with at least two NBA MVPs. He’ll also join Stephen Curry, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James as the only players since 2000 to go back-to-back.
A common denominator among the greatest regular season teams in history is their MVP leading the way. The 1971 Bucks, who went 66-16 with the largest margin of victory ever, were guided by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s second-most impactful year. The 1996 Bulls, who stormed through the NBA with a 72-10 record, included Michael Jordan’s best season from start to finish. The 2016 Warriors, who eclipsed the Bulls’ record with 73 wins, became a near-unstoppable offense because of Stephen Curry’s earth-shattering scoring.
Right now, 60 games in, these Bucks should be viewed in the same light. Thus, so should their leader.
With Milwaukee on pace to finish 71-11 (before the late-season resting kicks in), I was curious how Antetokounmpo’s season is matching up with Curry’s from 2016. They are extremely close in virtually everything that measures on-court impact:
Like I said in the initial statement; however you want to view this, Giannis is the runaway winner BUT…
- You’ll Also Learn
- What criteria I use if I voted for the NBA MVP
- Major League Baseball MVP voting system
- Things we can do to fix the NBA MVP voting system
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