The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Sidelines: Wrapping up the NBA season

This year’s MVP race, which involves Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, is highly contested.

The NBA playoffs start tomorrow and as another regular season of NBA basketball has wrapped up, it is time to reflect on the year that was and the storylines that were.

This possibly was one of the most overly dramatic years in the NBA’s history. Both conferences were a confusing mash of mediocrity with only a few teams emerging as genuine contenders and the rest mired in infighting and disillusion. This has resulted in a season showcasing how the era of the super team and superstar duo has completely ended.

After Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant assembled a superteam in Brooklyn and went 20-10 with both of them on the court, Irving caused a stir by demanding a trade. He was subsequently moved to the Mavericks, who proceeded to get worse. Durant was then traded to the Suns as the Nets favored completely cleaning house over trying to compete with mediocrity.

Rudy Gobert capped off the Timberwolves’ disappointing season by throwing a punch at a teammate in their last contest before the play-in game. Funnily enough, with the Biden administration’s announcement surrounding the lifting of the emergency status of the pandemic coming on the same day at Gobert’s punch, COVID-19’s reign over the world was bookended with Gobert putting his hands on things he probably shouldn’t have.

The Lakers struggled all year with both Lebron James and Anthony Davis gritting through injuries. For a large part of the season, they looked in danger of completely missing the playoffs for the second straight year, which would have been the first time in James’ history that he missed the playoffs in back-to-back years.

The reigning NBA champion Warriors struggled mightily, only winning 11 regular season road games. Even though they have remained healthy, they just have not been able to put it together. Both the Warriors and the Lakers snuck into the playoffs and now look to play the unfamiliar spoiler to the higher seeds.

However, to balance all that negativity and regression, the best story in the league this year is the Sacramento Kings, who have ended their 16-season playoff drought – one of the longest in professional sports – to become one of the best teams in the Western Conference.  The same goes for the Cavaliers, who have also undergone a complete rebuild and have built back better.

The last main storyline of the year concerned the MVP. Sparking major controversy among sports pundits on ESPN, the three-way race between Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and two-time defending MVP Nikola Jokic has divided the NBA world.

Jokic is statistically, far and away, the best player in the league. That is evident by the Nuggets remaining the number one seed in the west for the entire season. However, his effort on defense has routinely been called into question, causing many to accuse him of “stat padding.”

Embiid on the other hand has routinely put up incredible numbers while also displaying a defensive effort worthy of defensive player of the year. His main knock has been his durability; if he were to win, he would set the record for the most games missed by an MVP in NBA history.

Lastly, Antetokounmpo, decidedly the third man in the three-man race, has showcased that he is just the best and most talented player in the NBA, just without the stats to give him his third MVP in his career.

With allegations of racism, load management and general apathy calling the entire award race into question, it will be interesting to see if Embiid can finally notch his first MVP or if it will be decided purely based off of stats. If Jokic wins, which is where the odds are currently, he will join an exclusive club with just three other members of players who won three straight MVPs.

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About the Contributor
Charlie Berman
Charlie Berman, Sports Editor

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