There we have it – the end of the NBA regular season. It starts to get serious now with the play-in tournament tipping off ahead of an intense playoff series.
NBA MVP Race
The race to be the NBA’s Most Valuable Player has been one of the most enthralling in recent years. Despite the boring back and forth between fans who play favourites, those that can appreciate what is in front of them have enjoyed the battle between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, in particular. It wasn’t long ago that Embiid sat on the first line of betting in the MVP market. However, it is Jokic who closed as a $1.28 favourite to Embiid’s $3.60.
Nikola Jokic is the first player in NBA history with
in a single season. pic.twitter.com/j4DBLwFylF
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 8, 2022
Giannis Antetokounmpo – arguably the best player in the world right now – ended up at $8.50 as the only other realistic contender.
Suns Enter Post-Season As Favourites
The Phoenix Suns finished their best season in franchise history to end with the best record in the league. After getting so close to lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy to end the 2020-21 season, they’re favourites to do it in 2021-22 at $3.60.
Devin Booker has been fantastic. His $91 closing price in the MVP market doesn’t do his season justice and plenty of NBA players will tell you he should be in the conversation if not the favourite. The 25-year-old averaged 26.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game with a 53% effective field goal percentage. Booker has always been able to get buckets, but he has played a more mature and well-rounded season this time around and the Suns have benefited.
Chris Paul hasn’t been too bad either…
2008: Hornets franchise record wins
2014: Clippers franchise record wins
2018: Rockets franchise record wins
2022: Suns franchise record wins
What do they have in common?
Chris Paul. pic.twitter.com/d8i8PC5CvN
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 6, 2022
While cynics will say “those teams also had no ring in common,” Paul’s influence on the Suns is undeniable. They’re a young and energetic team that has taken another step towards championship glory thanks to Paul’s play at point guard. The 36-year-old continues to produce the goods to average 14.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 10.8 assists per game, getting himself and his teammates to spots on the floor to dominate.
The Suns are deserving favourites heading into the NBA playoffs. Here’s hoping Paul, in particular, can stay healthy throughout the post-season.
Rookie of the Year
Evan Mobley ended the NBA season as a $1.40 favourite to win the Rookie of the Year award. However, there’s a good chance Scottie Barnes ends up closer than most expect when the votes are counted.
Consistency is often the key in this award and Barnes has been producing all year.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 4, 2022
Ben Simmons Watch
Reports are slowly starting to filter out that suggest Ben Simmons could make his Brooklyn Nets debut in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
It’s not ideal, but it’s necessary if the Nets want to win the championship. Simmons is an elite defender. While his introduction to the team could negatively impact the offence to start with, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving can do enough themselves to make up the difference. It’s Brooklyn’s 20th-ranked defence allowing 112.7 points per 100 possessions that is the issue in most need of addressing. For perspective, the Golden State Warriors lead the NBA with a 106.8 defensive rating, the Suns are 3rd at 107.2, and their rivals in the East – Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers – are at 108.9 (5th) 110.8 (11th) and 111.6 (14th).
Defence wins championships and the Nets don’t have it – right now…
Sources: There’a optimism Nets star Ben Simmons could make debut during first round of the NBA playoffs as long as his progression continues in strengthening his legs and back. Simmons has been ramping up his workload and is expected to continue doing so.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 10, 2022
That’s It For Vogel
Frank Vogel has coached his final game for the Lakers, a decision that’s expected to be shared with him as soon as Monday, sources tell ESPN. Lakers’ search expected to be lengthy and expansive with no clear initial frontrunner.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2022
From da league pic.twitter.com/i84p8xPnwt
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 11, 2022