Giannis Antetokounmpo: Will MVP still be awarded if season is canceled?

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was on track to win his second consecutive award, but if the season gets canceled, could he still take home the honors?

Giannis Antetokounmpo followed up his MVP winning season last year with another incredible showcase this season. As the front runner to take home his second consecutive MVP honors, Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to a league-best 53-12 record and averaged career-bests in points and rebounds per game in an all around dominant sixth season.

With a solidified case to win his second, Antetokounmpo’s chances of doing so are currently in jeopardy with the suspension of the NBA. With 17 games currently not played in the regular season, speculation has surfaced about whether the league will still give out awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, etc.

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Would the NBA genuinely choose not to hand out regular season awards if play does not resume? Realistically, it would be a fiasco if they chose not to.

The Milwaukee Bucks had just crossed 65 games played at the time of suspension, meaning that there were 17 games left unplayed. With more than 75 percent of the season already completed, there should be a large enough sample size to crown awards.

Still, many could argue that these awards could be shifted drastically throughout the final 17 or so games of the season. The Rookie of the Year race heated up between Memphis Grizzlies Star Ja Morant and New Orleans Pelicans phenom Zion Williamson, and many believed that these final games would ultimately be the deciding factor.

That same followed for MVP honors as Antetokounmpo led the standings all season, but that changed for many after Milwaukee lost a few games right before play halted. Due to a recent surge, many believed Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James overtook Giannis’ spot and hoped for a close battle until the end of the regular season.

However, with both of these awards, recency bias turned into a significant factor, rather than the longevity of the season. Surveys were conducted for both awards and showcased precise results all around. In a Rookie of the Year vote at ESPN, all 70 eligible voters gave Ja Morant the nod over Zion Williamson, and Giannis Antetokounmpo received 60 out of 70 votes for MVP.

An entire season may eventually get ruled out, but there is plenty of evidence with the games that took place in order to give out awards if it comes down to that.

Although nothing like COVID-19 has ever affected the NBA, a similar scenario where the regular season was shortened took place in the 2011-12 season. Sixty-six regular-season games were played that year due to a league-wide lockout, and awards were still handed out when the season concluded.

With the Milwaukee Bucks having played just one game fewer than what was played that season, the league is likely going to hand out awards regardless of a finished season or not. If they do, Giannis Antetokounmpo is undoubtedly the front runner to take home back-to-back MVPs.

Having improved from his career-year last season, No. 34 surprisingly averaged his fewest minutes per game since his rookie season, as he was shortened to 30.9 this season. Still, even with fewer minutes, he finished the season with a stat line that consisted of 29.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 13.7 rebounds per game, while he transformed the Bucks into one of the NBA’s best teams ever seen.

Before an unfortunate injury that forced him to miss a few games, the Milwaukee Bucks were on pace to win 70 games led by Antetokounmpo’s freakish season. The forward seemingly shattered a new record every single night, some more far-fetched than others, but still historical.

One record that stood out among many was that with a win versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, Antetokounmpo’s 32 points notched a new NBA single-season record with his ninth game of 30 or more points scored in under thirty minutes. This record was broken 59 games into the season, which left the MVP plenty of time to add to his record-breaking total.

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There are several more records that the forward claimed this season, but at 30.9 minutes per game this season, imagine what he might accomplish if he played more minutes. Regardless, due to his team’s substantial record and dominant stature all season, Giannis Antetokounmpo should be placed as the clear-cut favorite for the 2019-20 MVP award.