podium for KD, duel at the top between Jokic and Doncic

The new year has begun but we’re not changing good habits at TrashTalk. Wednesday is MVP, and that’s good because we have to make a big point about the race for the Michael Jordan Trophy. We’re coming off a crazy two weeks in terms of individual performances and as you can imagine, it’s been pretty crazy in the MVP standings.

Statistics: 30.8 points / 4.8 rebounds / 5.8 assists / 1.7 steals / 1.0 fights / 49.9% shooting
Assessment: 16 wins – 21 losses

If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pissed off a lot of TTFL players last night with his last-minute absence, we’d like to have him back in the Top 10 after another good fortnight on his part. Author of 44 pawns – his best total of the season – against the Pelicans before Christmas and establishing himself as one of the most clutch players on the NBA circuit (hello the Blazers), SGA does not shrink from an individual who level. And in addition, the Thunder continue to be respectable. With a collective record of 16 wins – 21 losses, Oklahoma City could have a play-in tournament in their sights (just 1.5 games behind the Jazz) when it’s tanking a bit before the season. In short, Shai deserves to be there, he who is scheduled to participate in his very first All-Star Game next February.

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Statistics: 26.0 points / 7.0 rebounds / 4.6 assists / 1.1 steals / 60.8% shooting
Assessment: 23 wins – 14 losses

Pelicans fans benefit, Zion Williamson is unlikely to stay in the ninth spot for long. Affected with hamstrings recently after going through the COVID protocol, the New Orleans buffalo will effectively miss at least three weeks of competition, clearly cutting into his good momentum. Before his stupidity, Zion remarkably remained with two XXL performances against the Wolves (43 points, career record) and the Sixers (36 points), enough to consolidate New Orleans’ place on the Western Conference podium despite no last loss of Brandon Ingram. We now hope that Zion will not be on the sidelines for too long because when he is at 100%, he is a real steamroller.

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Statistics: 27.2 points / 6.2 rebounds / 8.0 assists / 1.0 steals / 45.9% shooting
Assessment: 23 wins – 13 losses

“More regularity”. That’s what Ja Morant said when asked about his resolutions for 2023. And so far he’s keeping them, as evidenced by his last two outings against New Orleans de Zion (32 points, 8 assists) and Sacramento Kings (35 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists), not to mention his career high assist against the Raptors (17 assists). However, Ja will have to confirm this over time to hope to enter the Race for MVP more seriously, given his recent comments about the competition within his conference. Four losses in five games between December 17 and 27 proved that the Grizzlies were not “good in the West” and they must disown themselves to hope to gain power. The positive point is that Morant’s team has been able to continue their march forward since then (three straight wins), and is just one win away from leader Denver.

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Statistics: 29.3 points / 3.9 rebounds / 4.8 assists / 1.4 steals / 49.2% shooting (41.3% from 3-pointers)
Assessment: 24 wins – 14 losses

With three consecutive losses and very cautious individual performances by his standards, Donovan Mitchell ended the year 2022 slowly. On the other hand, he started 2023 like crazy: 71 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds against the Bulls the other day, quite simply one of the best offensive performances in NBA history. A performance so insane that Spida and the Cavs had to go to the doping control room after the game. Without Darius Garland back in the infirmary, Donovan is now keeping Cleveland (fourth in the East) in the race for the conference podium, while Brooklyn won’t stop winning and Milwaukee won’t stop. will not be defeated.

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Statistics: 33.5 points / 9.8 rebounds / 4.6 assists / 1.7 battles / 1.2 steals / 53.2% shooting
Assessment: 22 wins – 14 losses

For many, Joel Embiid has not been highlighted enough in the Race for MVP. To us, in any case he just jumped three spots after two weeks of madness that allowed him to win the title of player of the month for December in the Eastern Conference. 44 points against the Clippers, 35 on Christmas at Madison Square Garden, 48 points – 10 rebounds against the Wizards, 37 points against the Pelicans, a triple-double against the Thunder, 42 points – 11 rebounds against New Orleans… we stopped if where are we going? After a non-tip top start to the season marked especially by several absences, Embiid regained all his power to return the Sixers (8 wins in the last 10 games) to the Top 5 in the East, and once again will be one of the leading MVP candidates after finishing second the past two years.

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Statistics: 32.8 points / 11.8 rebounds / 5.2 assists / 53.6% shooting
Assessment: 24 wins – 13 losses

Big fall for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who dominated the MVP Race with Jayson Tatum two weeks ago. However, one by one, the Greek Freak has been a mon-stru-them in recent days: two games in 40 points – 20 rebounds, a performance in 55 pawns (career record), in other words the double MVP is too much upset at the moment. . But if he’s in a bad mood, it’s probably because the Bucks have been losing for two weeks. Five losses in seven games for Milwaukee, including two losses in Brooklyn after against the Celtics last Christmas (a game in which Giannis was pretty tough), this is clearly a blemish. Even though the Bucks are not complete (Khris Middleton is out, Jrue Holiday is also out) and the Freak has to do everything by himself at the moment, we need to quickly raise the level together to relaunch in this Race to the 2022-23 MVP with absolutely no gift.

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Statistics: 30.8 points / 8.1 rebounds / 4.0 assists / 1.1 steals / 47.4% shooting
Assessment: 26 wins – 12 losses

Another big man from the start of the season who is paying for a not-so-great collective dynamic: Jayson Tatum. The Celtics have lost 6 of their last 11 games (including a loss to OKC yesterday by 33 points, without Gilgeous-Alexander…), enough to undermine the MVP record of JT, who was nevertheless a huge favorite in the mid of December. This collective bad pass could cost first place in the East to Boston given the current pace of the Brooklyn Nets (just 0.5 games back). On an individual level, however, Tatum continues to be exceptional, the one who dramatically dominated Giannis Antetokounmpo on Christmas (41 points) while taking down other offensive cards in the past two weeks.

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Statistics: 29.6 points / 6.8 rebounds / 5.5 assists / 1.5 blocks / 56.4% shooting
Assessment: 25 wins – 12 losses

But where will Kevin Durant’s Nets end up? That’s 12 straight wins for KD’s band, which now squats in second place in the Eastern Conference while directly threatening leader Boston. And that inevitably, it reinforces more and more Durant’s files, which however got off to a bad start a few weeks ago when chaos still reigned in Brooklyn. Slim Reaper may not have as impressive a performance as its direct competitors, but the regularity and efficiency with which it currently thrives speaks in its favor. His stats in the last 9 games? 28.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 fights, all on 59% shooting including 43% from 3-pointers and nearly 97% from the free throw line. A monster, quite simply, who just entered the Top 15 all-time NBA scorers. Life is good for KD now.

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Statistics: 34.3 points / 8.8 rebounds / 8.9 assists / 1.7 steals / 50.7% shooting
Assessment: 22 wins – 16 losses

Luka Doncic, where to start? With his 60-21-10 against the Knicks? His 50-pawn performances against Texas neighbors Houston and San Antonio? The Slovenian phenom’s name was clearly on everyone’s lips for two weeks, two weeks of all-time in which he outplayed Wilt Chamberlain to lead the Mavericks to a seven-game winning streak. If we can still worry about the overall level of Dallas knowing that the Mavs will have to work to grab some victories (especially against weak teams like Houston or San Antonio) despite the great exploits of Luka, no doubt that the latter is the most meaningful of the word “important”. Two-time player of the week in the West and also voted as the best player of the month for December, Luka Doncic is playing on another planet right now.

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Statistics: 25.6 points / 10.8 rebounds / 9.5 assists / 1.4 steals / 61.5% shooting
Assessment: 24 wins – 13 losses

“If some people think Nikola Jokic shouldn’t be MVP because he’s won it twice, that’s bullshit.” The statement was signed by Nuggets coach Mike Malone after his player’s new masterclass in shock against Boston (30 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists) on January 1, and we can only agree with him. Because when you have Jokic’s level of skill, you keep pushing the limits of efficiency and versatility (career highs in passing and shooting percentage this year for Joker), and you carry your team to the top of the Western Conference despite the lieutenants (Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr.) aren’t at the top yet, there’s no reason not to be in pole position for MVP. So yes, some voters may have a hard time picking the Serbian genius knowing that the triple MVPs in history can be counted on the fingers of one hand (Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain), but Jokic brings it all back together of ingredients to win the bet.

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Honorable mention: Stephen Curry (Warriors), Devin Booker (Suns), Jaylen Brown (Celtics), LeBron James (Lakers), Julius Randle (Knicks), Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers), De’Aaron Fox (Kings), Damian Lillard (Blazers), Kyrie Irving (Nets)

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