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You might hear them chanting as he jogged off the ground, the visiting followers showering Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with reward after a 42-point epic punctuated by a game-winning triple: “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
It’s uncommon for followers of the opposing workforce to do what we noticed from the Wizards trustworthy on Wednesday. It’s rarer but to see a participant like Gilgeous-Alexander on the receiving finish whereas enjoying for a workforce that, in all chance, is destined for the lottery for the third straight season.
Regardless of. The refrain is rising louder – not simply within the rafters of Capital One Enviornment, however throughout the league. Might Gilgeous-Alexander truly win the NBA’s most coveted award?
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2022-23 NBA MVP betting odds (by way of BetMGM)
Giannis Antetokounmpo+250Luka Doncic+275Jayson Tatum+500Joel Embiid+1000Stephen Curry+1100Ja Morant+1400Kevin Durant+2000Donovan Mitchell+2200Nikola Jokic+3000Devin Booker+4000Damian Lillard+4000Trae Younger+5000Zion Williamson+5000Pascal Siakam+5000Shai Gilgeous-Alexander+5000
Might Gilgeous-Alexander win 2022-23 NBA MVP?
The thought of Gilgeous-Alexander successful MVP would have sounded preposterous only a month in the past, when the Thunder guard was priced as excessive as 500/1 at some retailers earlier than the season. Even earlier this week, he was nonetheless dealing as a 150/1 lengthy shot at most books regardless of his sensational begin.
Quick ahead to Thursday, after he polished off a profession efficiency with one more clutch shot, and he’s all the way down to 50/1 at BetMGM – a near-consensus worth throughout the market. And the stats inform the story of one of many league’s most dear gamers by the primary month of the season.
Getting into Thursday’s motion, SGA ranks third in scoring (32.3 PPG) whereas taking pictures 54.8% from the ground, 40% from deep, and 90.6% from the free-throw line. The one participant to ever common 30 factors with 50/40/90 splits throughout a whole season was Stephen Curry in 2015-16, when he grew to become the primary and solely participant in NBA historical past to earn unanimous MVP honors.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder Getty Pictures
Gilgeous-Alexander additionally boasts the best field-goal share by a guard averaging 30 or extra factors in NBA historical past, because it stands on Thursday. Proper behind him? Michael Jordan, who averaged 30 PPG on 53.5% taking pictures on three separate events and gained MVP in two of these seasons.
That’s how ridiculous Gilgeous-Alexander has been as a scorer, and he reveals no indicators of stopping. He’s dropped at the very least 37 factors in 4 of his final 5 video games and has scored at the very least 32 factors in 9 of 13 video games up to now – taking pictures 50% or higher in each.
One way or the other, that’s solely half the story. Oklahoma Metropolis’s do-it-all star can also be averaging 5.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds whereas rating fourth in steals (1.9) and twelfth in blocks (1.4). The one participant to common these marks in a season? You guessed it: Jordan in 1987-88, when he gained MVP.
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The largest issue working towards Gilgeous-Alexander is the one that almost all obscured his candidacy within the first place: his supporting forged. With apologies to Josh Giddey (and Luguentz Dort on a great evening), the relative lack of expertise on this roster led oddsmakers to cost the Thunder at simply 26.5 wins earlier than the season.
Positive sufficient, even with SGA’s brilliance, Oklahoma Metropolis is barely on tempo to win 38 video games as of Thursday. Because the NBA merger in 1976, solely three MVP winners have ever hailed from a workforce that gained fewer than 50 video games – a listing that features former hometown star Russell Westbrook (2016-17), who led the Thunder to 47 wins in 2016-17.
That checklist additionally consists of reigning two-time MVP winner Nikola Jokic, whose Nuggets gained 48 video games final yr behind his otherworldly efforts. Maybe Gilgeous-Alexander can will his workforce to an identical threshold, or possibly voters will acknowledge his true “worth” to the Thunder, who’re 11.05 factors worse per 100 possessions when he’s not on the ground.
Both approach, there’s a palpable buzz fueling the “SGA for MVP” marketing campaign, and there’s nonetheless worth at this worth even after Wednesday’s electrical game-winner. It’s solely a matter of time earlier than he hits one other.