Consider this to be a formal apology on behalf of the National Basketball Association’s voting committee from someone not that important.
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers is the odds-on favorite to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, which would be his first, this season; next in line is last year’s award-winner, Nikola Jokic, then comes two-time MVP and reigning NBA champion, Giannis Antetokounmpo, followed by DeMar DeRozan, the rightful MVP of the league.
DeRozan bettors, I do not understand how your nominee is being so undervalued in an award centered around “value,” or so the committee wants the public to believe.
DeMar DeRozan is the 2022 NBA MVP
In his first season with the Chicago Bulls, DeMar DeRozan is averaging 28.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game for a team currently occupying the Eastern Conference’s number-two seed, just behind the Miami Heat.
The former San Antonio Spur and longtime Toronto Raptor was viewed as a player past his prime on the open market last summer, following declines in averages during his tenure in San Antonio. He was best known for being dominated by the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs and failing to adapt to a three-point-driven league that many thought had left him behind.
DeRozan’s utterly ridiculous turnaround has seen him break records held by Wilt Chamberlain, become the first player to hit back-to-back game-winners in a 24-hour span, and become one of the league’s, dare it be said, five best players this season.
Transforming a Franchise
The Bulls showed their intent to compete last season when they traded for Nikola Vucevic last season, pairing him with their star, Zach LaVine. Adding Lonzo Ball and DeRozan in the offseason made them one of the five favorites to come out of the East in the 2022 playoffs, though every one of Chicago’s main figures, led by DeRozan, had one common criticism in common: they had never made an impact when it mattered.
In DeRozan’s first season in Chi-Town, he has become the most efficient shooting two/three in the league and a clutch takeover player in the fourth quarter, two claims that he could not make before.
The USC product also has season-defining moments to build his MVP case around, including the consecutive game-winners and a lengthy reel of late-game bucket getting.
The media is often responsible for determining the MVP frontrunner, and that is coalescing once again. Joel Embiid, the presumptive winner of the award, would be averaging 20.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per night if free-throws were excluded from his points total; this stat line can be likened to Julius Randle (19.6 points, 10.2 rebounds) and Pascal Siakam (21.4 points, 8.6 rebounds). Embiid’s game is obviously predicated around getting to the line and converting his opportunities, but if James Harden was discounted for a similar style of play, then Embiid should not now be celebrated for cheaply accumulating points.
Nikola Jokic is having a phenomenal all-around season and is leading the league in player efficiency rating, 12th in scoring, second in rebounding, and sixth in assists. Nobody is arguing his incredible talent— but the question remains, if Jokic is the clear-cut best player in the league, then is it not strange that his team is in seventh in the Western Conference? And, if injuries play a part, then why were superstars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant criticized for not elevating their teams beyond their level of talent, but Jokic gets a free pass?
If anybody deserves to be the MVP over DeRozan, it is Giannis Anteotkounmpo, who seems to be suffering from the all-familiar voter fatigue that saw Steve Nash win two MVPs and Shaquille O’Neal only one. The Greek Freak has sleepwalked his way to a line of 29.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per night, beating out Embiid in two of the three, while also averaging the same steals (1.0) and nearly equal blocks (1.5 to 1.4) while playing fewer minutes per game.
Closing the Case
As far as identifying a player’s value, just like the award’s name indicates, no player has elevated their team more than DeRozan. Every case that another player can make, DeRozan has as equally strong of a case, if not stronger.
It will be an outright travesty if DeRozan (+1200) misses out on the award that he will probably never get a better chance at.