US basketball

LeBron or Giannis? NBA MVP race heats up

Delfin Dioquino
Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James both put up astounding numbers across the board as their teams lead their respective conferences

The debate on who is the most qualified to be crowned the NBA Most Valuable Player this season has become a heated discussion as LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo figure in a tight duel.

Antetokounmpo and James both put up astounding numbers across the board and their teams – the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, respectively – lead the standings in their respective conferences.

The argument for James is that is he still performing at the highest level despite having Father Time knocking on his doors at 35 years old.

Already in his 17th season, “The King” has not slowed down, norming 25.7 points, 10.7 assists, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals for the Lakers, who top the Western Conference with a 49-14 slate.

James’ assists average is his career-best and ranks No. 1 in the NBA, ahead of Trae Young, Ricky Rubio, Luka Doncic, and Ben Simmons.

“He is playing probably one of his best years. We’re the top team in the West,” Lakers star Anthony Davis said of his four-time MVP teammate.

“Just to be in the race at his age at this part of his career… the things he does on a consistent basis… it is a good argument for him to be MVP.”

Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, continues to raise his game to the next level as he eclipsed his numbers from his MVP season last year.

“The Greek Freek” averages career-bests of 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds on top of 5.8 assists, 1.0 block, and 1.0 steal to tow the Bucks to a league-leading 53-12 record.

Antetokounmpo ranks No. 3 in the NBA in points and rebounds and leads the league in usage percentage with 36.2, a shade above the 35.8 mark of second-placers James and Doncic.

But Antetokounmpo said winning the coveted championship – not the MVP award – is his utmost priority.

“My main focus is to get better, win games, help my team play good basketball, and go try to win the big trophy,” Antetokounmpo said.

“The last time we did that was 1971 so that is my main focus right now,” he added, with the Bucks capturing their lone title back when NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson played for the team.

Since only 22 of the 30 teams will be participating in the season restart, the NBA decided to end the individual awards races, meaning the seeding games in the Orlando bubble will not count in the voting. –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.