The NBA announced that voting to determine this season’s award winners concludes on Tuesday, July 28, just two days before seeding games at Walt Disney World begin.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis are in the running for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. The timetable is in service of the league’s decision to exclude any games after March 11 from being counted in the award races.
“The decision to exclude seeding games from awards voting ensures a fair process in which players and coaches from all 30 NBA teams will have the same opportunity to be honored as top performers for the 2019-20 regular season,” NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.
While Davis was slowly losing ground to Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the defensive race, James was inching closer for MVP. With the end of voting, speculation suggests the NBA will see a player win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season for the first time since Hakeem Olajuwon did so in 1994.
Awards are voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, as has been the case since 1981. The league will announce the honors throughout the postseason. The NBA has recently held an annual awards show to hand out the hardware, but this year’s ceremony seems to be another casualty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
James will likely be on the All-NBA First Team, but the Lakers’ representation is uncertain from there. If Davis is listed as a center, he may qualify for the first team. A forward designation would all but certainly demote him to the second or even third team.
On the defensive side, Davis will definitely be recognized, but a first-team ranking is not definite. James has drastically improved defensively in his second season with L.A. and should place as well. His last time doing so was in 2014 as a member of the Miami Heat.
The Lakers’ Frank Vogel is a strong candidate for Coach of the Year but could be edged out by Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. Budenholzer is the reigning Coach of the Year and owns the best record in the NBA at 53-12.
Vogel remedied a questionable Lakers culture in less than a year, which might sway voters away from awarding Budenholzer his third trophy.
Campaigning for LeBron to win MVP
Davis offered his opinion on the heated MVP race between James and Antetokounmpo, noting that age and degree of difficulty should be taken into account. “The things he’s doing at his age. I mean, he’s playing one of his best years on a top team in the West,” Davis said.
“The things he’s able to do on the floor, especially when everybody was saying he was washed and should hang it up, he’s come back with a dominant performance. And then just to be in the race at his age and point in his career, for me to see it every night, the things he does on a consistent basis, he’s been doing it his whole career.
“I think it’s a good argument for him to be MVP.”
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