The NBA MVP debate has been raging for a while now. While some think Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the obvious choice, there have been plenty of other names tossed around in the debate, including Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
Curry gained a lot of momentum at the end of the regular season thanks to his hot streak to close the campaign to get the Warriors in the play-in tournament, while Lillard’s hype train slowed down a bit. Dame talked to The Athletic’s Sam Amick about the MVP race and made his own case for Jokic, who the Blazers will play in the first round of the playoffs.
Lillard even used himself as an example for why Jokic should win over Curry and another top candidate in Joel Embiid:
“I think Steph has had a great season. Obviously, there has to be a conversation about him being in the conversation. But I don’t think he wins it. At the eight seed, I just don’t see how that works. Last year, it was people like (ESPN’s) Stephen A. (Smith saying) ‘Man, I love what Dame is doing but he can’t be the MVP because they’re the eighth seed.’ You know what I’m saying? But last year, I averaged 30 points and eight assists on 46 (percent) from the field, 40 from the three-point line and 90 from free throw (it was actually 88.8). But last year, they’re like, ‘Man, we can’t consider him an MVP because they’re the eighth seed.’ And now it’s like it’s ok. For me, that’s the way that I’m looking at it”
Damian Lillard continued:
(Curry) is definitely in the conversation. There’s no way that you don’t have him in the conversation. But I think when you really look at it, and you see that Jokic has played in every game and he’s dominated the way he has, they’ve had injuries with so many guys out and missed games and he’s kept them rolling. He’s kept them where they are. And Embiid has missed a lot of games. And even when he got hurt, they just kept going, you know? So I would say Jokic.”
Damian Lillard has a point here. Dame put up massive numbers last season (similar to Curry this season) and went on a tear in the bubble to get the Blazers in the playoffs. However, Lillard only finished eighth in MVP voting, even with Jusuf Nurkic missing much of the season.
Curry did lead the NBA in scoring this season and is even more important to the Warriors than Lillard, especially with Klay Thompson out, but the 39-33 record will count against him. Jokic was dominant all season and led the Nuggets to a 47-25 record despite Jamal Murray tearing his ACL in mid-April.
As great as Curry is and no matter how much he may deserve MVP, he doesn’t have a better case than Jokic this season. Ultimately, that’s what Damian Lillard’s point is.