Does NBA’s most valuable player award still matter?

For the majority of the NBA’s history, the MVP award has been voted on by a select group of media members each year at the end of

the regular season and given to the league’s “most valuable player.” The award is highly prestigious and holds a heavy weight in NBA discussions in the media, as it has always sym- bolized who the best player was for a given season.

However, the process of select- ing the most valuable player gets much more difficult in a competitive season like this year, with greater parity across team records and player statistics. This season, six players averaged over 30 points per game, which is tied for the most in a single season in league history.

When there are so many gifted players putting up equally impressive statistical performances on a nightly basis, how are the voters supposed to determine the “most valuable” of them all?

Value is not a concrete concept, especially when it comes to evaluating NBA players. Voters, fans and players alike have all formed different personal definitions of what the MVP means.

Some say it should be given to the best player on the team with the best regular season record, others say it should be awarded for the most statistically impressive season, while some say it should go to the player that is most depended on by their team for success.

This season’s MVP discussion was one of great controversy and continued to dominate NBA circles until the regular season concluded earlier this month. While there were many tremendous players this season, the NBA was consistently dominated by three guys: Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Joel Embiid of the Philadel- phia 76ers, and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

Each of these players were leading the MVP conversation at one point throughout the season and all have a legitimate case as to why they could be the 2022-23 winner.

Antetokounmpo could be the MVP because he was the best player on the league’s best team. Voters will always give that great consideration, especially when also taking note of his incredible season statistics. Embiid could be the MVP because he was the league’s best scorer, averaging 33.1 points per game in the 66 games that he played. Had he not consistently been his team’s offensive focus, as well as their anchor on defense, the Philadelphia 76ers would not have finished with the third-best record in the NBA. Jokic could win the MVP because he was arguably more essential to his team’s overall success than any other player this season. Jokic played in 69 of the Denver Nuggets’ 82 games, helping lead an incomplete roster to the best record in the western conference while nearly averaging a triple double. He has also been named the league MVP each of the past two seasons, which in some circles is seen as a bad thing because voters may be hesitant to award him a third-straight trophy.

All three of these players had tremendous seasons and could each be the MVP, depending on what each voter will evaluate and find most important. However, with the regular season now complete, these players have done all they can and voters have already sent in their ballots.

While that’s fine, it will not be as meaningful to those that were watching as other seasons where one player truly stood above the rest of the league. Each of these three MVP candidates were tremendous and the value that they provide to their teams could never be replaced. However, since the MVP must be chosen,
fans and the media spent the season comparing and disparaging the three standouts, rather than appreciating their historic performances.

If the MVP award causes more negative discourse than positive, I don’t think it is still as meaningful as it once was.

For certain seasons, like when Michael Jordan and Lebron James were dominating in their primes, the MVP award made perfect sense.

However, in a season that saw Antetokounmpo, Embiid, and Jokic leading the conversation at one point, there is no right choice. As the MVP, voters and fans come to real- ize just how close the best players are from a value perspective, I hope that the NBA can more clearly define the award. If not, the MVP will only continue to cause controversy and force us to overreact on a nightly basis for many seasons to come.