Sports Take: The case for Giannis, MVP

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), left, dribbles as Miami Heat's Jae Crowder (99) defends during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Associated Press

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

Each year, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award is subject to heated debates and spirited discussions as to who should win it. This year is no different.

Two camps exist, one advocating for Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the MVP award, and the other advocating for Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James.

This season, however, there should be no debate. Antetokounmpo is the clear and obvious MVP of the NBA.

Statistically, all signs point to Antetokounmpo being the MVP of the league. He’s averaged 29.5 points per game this season shooting a ridiculous 55.3% from the field. From a scoring perspective, his volume and efficiency are unmatched.

Antetokounmpo also averaged 13.6 rebounds per game, second in the NBA, and greatly improved his playmaking ability, contributing 5.6 assists per game.

Defensively, Antetokounmpo is dominant as well. He was recently named the NBA’s defensive player of the year and has the highest number of defensive win shares of any NBA player, at five. Defensive win shares is a stat that estimates the amount of wins contributed by a player due to his defense.

James only tops Antetokounmpo is one category: assists. And while Lebron is the by far the best playmaker in the league, it is not enough to put him above Antetokounmpo in the MVP race.

James’s scoring, defense and efficiency all pale in comparison to Antetokounmpo. However, statistics should not be the only deciding factor in deciding who the MVP should be awarded to, as context matters.

Experts have argued that James deserves the MVP trophy due to his longevity, as he is putting up amazing stats for a 35-year-old player in his 17th year in the NBA. Others have said that his superior playoff performances should place him above Antetokounmpo in the MVP race.

However, neither of these arguments make much sense in the MVP discussion.

While James’s production is unbelievable considering his age, age is not a factor in the MVP award. The award is simply for the most valuable player, not the best player at a certain age.

James has indeed outperformed Antetokounmpo in the playoffs. Antetokounmpo’s performance against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals was poor. But one playoff series, where Giannis was injured for two games, does not define a player’s season, at least when deciding the MVP award.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to the best regular-season record in the NBA with 56 wins and he did it without the help of another superstar.

James had the help of fellow 3-time fellow All-NBA selection Anthony Davis and still finished with a worse record than Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

While James and the Lakers may still have a chance at winning the NBA title, there is no denying that Antetokounmpo was the most dominant and valuable player in the NBA this season.