There is nothing more Giannis Antetokounmpo can do in his bid to win his second consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player award.
FILE PHOTO: Basketball – NBA – Charlotte Hornets v Milwaukee Bucks – AccorHotels Arena, Paris, France – January 24, 2020 Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
That is because the league informed all 30 teams on Friday that none of the games played once competition restarts on July 30 will count toward individual awards, according to multiple publications. Only 22 of the clubs are resuming play.
Statistical awards still will be up for grabs, but all the awards that are voted on will be based on stats through games of March 11. That was the night the season was suspended after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus in Oklahoma City.
“The decision to exclude seeding games from awards voting ensures a fair process in which players and coaches from all 30 teams will have the same opportunity to be honored as top performers for the regular season,” the NBA wrote in the memo to teams.
So any chance of New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson catching Memphis Grizzlies front-runner Ja Morant for Rookie of the Year honors is over. Williamson has played in just 19 games due to a knee injury, and he recently left the “bubble” environment in the Orlando area due to a family medical situation.
Balloting for All-NBA teams and Defensive Player of the Year honors are among the other awards that are affected.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists for the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks (53-12). Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic were considered in the mix for MVP when play was halted in March.
Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer doesn’t think there should be much debate over whether Antetokounmpo should repeat as MVP.
“I think it was 64, 65, 66 games for different teams so that’s certainly a significant body of work and more importantly, certainly, Giannis in our minds has done more than enough to deserve a back-to-back MVP,” Budenholzer said Friday, according to ESPN. “What he does for us on both ends of the court, what he does every night, the way he sets the bar for us, culture-wise, work-ethic-wise, just as a teammate. He’s an incredible teammate, plays unselfishly, does everything. And I think that’s kind of what the MVP is so we certainly feel like he’s very deserving and we’ll be excited to support him.”
On the statistical side, Harden leads in scoring with a 34.4 average. Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is second at 30.5, but he recently pulled out of the restart due to a shoulder injury.
Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond is the current rebound leader at 15.2 per game, but his club isn’t part of the restart. Portland Trail Blazers big man Hassan Whiteside (14.2) is the closest pursuer.
James (10.6) leads in assists. Second-place Trae Young (9.3) of the Atlanta Hawks is also on a team that won’t be on the floor in the Orlando area.
The league resumes play on July 30. In addition to the Hawks and Cavaliers, the others teams not participating are the Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks.
—Field Level Media