Nets star Kevin Durant believes the NBA should make changes to how it evaluates the MVP winner.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ premature exit in the playoffs was met with a wave of slander from basketball fans and media members who all knew that Giannis Antetokounmpo was going to win the MVP award, regardless of outcome.
It seems a bit draconian that Antetokounmpo received most of the blame for Milwaukee’s shortcomings, but that’s simply the standards superstars are held to, especially those on a team that boasted the best record in the NBA for the last two seasons.
By most measures, the Greek Freak deserved the win MVP for the second consecutive year, as he was genuinely spectacular for the entire season and most of the playoffs. What bothered certain individuals, however, was the sheer margin by which he defeated LeBron James in terms of first place votes — which was 86 to 14 in favor of the Freak.
Well, it just so happens that Kevin Durant falls under the category of people who believe James deserved to win his fifth MVP award. The Brooklyn Nets star feels as though voters should value playoff performance as much as they do regular season consistency, and the whole design of the operation should change.
“The criteria is the regular season, but I understand,” Durant said during an appearance on the Joe Budden podcast. “I feel the same way you feel. I think that they should evaluate the whole season, playoffs included. If you include the playoffs, the Bron is easily the MVP. But I see why, with the rules now, why Giannis was the MVP. His numbers [were] crazy.”
In fairness to Giannis, his numbers were genuinely otherworldly. In 63 games, he averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 55.3% from the field and leading the Bucks to the No. 1 seed in the East. To think that he managed those stats while playing just over 30 minutes per game is nothing short of absurd. On top of that, Antetokounmpo was also playing stout defense on a nightly basis, which rightfully saw him honored with his first career Defensive Player of the Year award.
While the four-time All-Star was grateful for his greatness being recognized, however, he fully understands why people were quick to criticize him after the Bucks were eliminated by Miami in the second round of the playoffs. During his presentation interview, he urged TNT studio host Ernie Johnson not to call him an MVP until he wins a championship.
It’s really easy to see where Durant is coming from with these comments, as LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers have opened up a 2-0 lead over Denver in the Western Conference Finals. They are widely (and rightfully) regarded as the championship favorites, whereas the Bucks are multiple weeks into their offseason.
When you consider that the NBA regular season isn’t taken all that seriously by most of the consensus championship contenders, not to mention the months-long interruption in this particular season, commissioner Adam Silver and Co. should absolutely take Durant’s remarks to heart and contemplate change.
After all, the league’s true “most valuable” players normally aren’t sent packing in the early rounds of the playoffs.