NEW YORK – Kevin Durant believes Joel Embiid should be the 2021-22 NBA MVP.
Durant, who won the award in the 2013-14 season, said that although there were many deserving candidates, he felt that Embiid’s season was a bit above the rest.
“If I had to pick, I would go Joel Embiid,” the Brooklyn Nets star said ahead of Tuesday’s walkthrough. “He led the league in scoring, doubles, his team won 50 games this year. Figures were incredible. It’s been a great year.
“But you can just close your eyes and just pick one of the guys from the top six or seven, and you can have a good MVP this year. That shows how great our league is now and how talented our league is from from top to bottom, but I would go with Embiid if I had to choose. “
Embiid has expressed disappointment with the way he is viewed by some voters – a theory that Durant supports in discussing how story plays out in MVP votes.
“It’s sad,” Durant said. “There are a lot of players who have been controlled by their story. Some of it has been because of the player, some of it has just been because of other people’s perception of that player. In Joel’s case, more people like Giannis and Jokic. It’s as simple as that. They just prefer her more than Embiid’s personality or his story, I think. “
Durant said that from a basketball standpoint, Embiid’s figures stand out against everyone else – even that of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, the player who many believe in the league will win his second consecutive MVP after the season.
“As a basketball player, people who only look at the game and what’s going on on the floor, stories and who you are and your personality, that game really does not matter,” Durant said. “It should not matter when it comes to such prices. But [with] Joel, [voters] probably just like those other guys better than you personally. That’s not fair at all, but it’s just the way it is sometimes. But if I had a voice, I would choose Joel. “
In Durant’s mind, if a player wins a second consecutive MVP award, they have to do something even more extraordinary than what they did before.
“I feel like you’ll win back-to-back MVPs – like watching Steph Curry,” Durant said of the Golden State Warriors star guard who won back-to-back MVPs in 2015 and 2016. “He average what his first MVP, like 23 points, seven rebounds, but his next he stepped up to such a different level – if you’ll get two in a row, you can not duplicate the same thing as you did before, in my opinion. That’s exactly how I feel. I’m not saying this is the Holy Grail. I’m saying this is how I feel.
“If you were to say that Steph will return next year when they have won 73 games and averaged 23 points again, it just would not have gone so well. [To] get two in a row, you have to go up and do something much bigger and better than you did before, in my opinion. If you get it. If you’ll do the same as you did before, you might as well go ahead and have another winner. So I think back-to-back MVPs are special and the season you have to team up, individually, everything has to come together to win your back-to-back [MVPs] in my opinion. That I feel like Jokic is having an incredible season, but Joel’s season was as good, if not better. That’s why I think he deserves an MVP. “
For his part, Durant said he played well enough to be considered for the award this season, but he understands that an MCL injury, which cost him 1 1/2 months of the season while he was out mid-January to February restored, is the reason why he no longer receives any pressure for the prize. He understands that “there are many what-ifs” over the course of a season.
“I see why I’m not in that conversation,” Durant said. “But I’m sure there are a lot of guys in the league who play MVP-caliber basketball for their clubs. That will help their clubs reach heights that they’re likely to reach this year. [without them], but when it comes to the whole league, there are just so many great players playing right now, it’s hard to pick. But I can really say, there are 10 or 12 of us maybe that could be in that conversation. That’s nice to see that in our league. “
Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash, who subsequently won MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 as a member of the Phoenix Suns, agreed with Durant’s assessment.
“Kevin would definitely be my MVP,” Nash said. “I do not know how many games someone has to play to be it, but of course I just think Kevin is amazing at what he does and what he can do to influence the game in so many different ways.”
For Durant’s point about winning consecutive awards, Nash said that his 2006-2007 season was actually his best season – a season for which he did not win the award.
“A lot of that is circumstantial,” Nash said. “Is the time, the year, the story, the story. My best year was the third year [in 2007] and Dirk got MVP. Every year there is always a case for another, so it’s just not a linear thing where the best player gets it every year. It’s always something more, how’s the season going? How many games have they missed? Who else had an exceptional year? What’s the story? So it’s one of those things that’s not linear. “
In Durant’s mind, the biggest key to winning the award is the “narrative” push that each player receives throughout the season. It’s a feeling shared by many throughout the league.
“I had this conversation yesterday with a few friends,” Durant said. “I’m not huge on narratives and I feel like that’s the most important factor in winning MVP. Because if you look at all the numbers of these guys, and their team records, it’s all pretty incredible – that three or four guys on that list averages 26, 27 a game.Rebounds and assists numbers are up.Their team numbers are 15 to 20 games over .500.
“When you have about four or five boys, it’s difficult to choose an MVP. So it’s probably always a matter of preference about who you personally want, individually, which story suits you best as a voter. “Because when you break down all the factors, it’s much bigger than basketball at this point.” Durant was quick to respond when asked if the league should just vote on who is the best player each year.
“But who defines the best player?” he said. “What do you see as your best player? What are the criteria for you as a best player? Everyone is different. People see the game differently. They consume the game differently. It makes them feel a certain way. Certain stories touch them a bit “Unlike other stories. It’s mainly, for example, who chooses these guys? Who makes these decisions? That should be the question.”
Durant believes there should be a mix of players, media and executives voting on the award – and although he was not sure what the right solution was at the moment, he felt there were some adjustments to the voting system. order were.
“Obviously, a lot of people don’t like the criteria at the moment,” Durant said. “So something needs to change, right? We’ll see. It’s a good conversation to have for basketball fans.”