It’s crucial to examine availability as the NBA MVP race continues to sputter into a stew of hot takes, sophisticated statistics, and not-so-subtle call-outs.
The NBA world is anticipating the heavyweight matchup between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, but reports have surfaced that Philadelphia will rest their superstar center, depriving the world of a game that is sure to go down in history.
Games Played is a significant and meaningful stat when talking about how much a player has meant to their team, even though it is completely unfair to blame a player for the injuries that can ruin their season. Medical staffs and team officials may hold out players, but putting themselves in a position to be available.
Excluding shortened seasons (either due to COVID or lockouts), the last NBA MVP to play less than 71 games was Bill Walton in 1977-78. Voters have clearly valued the consistency and durability of players for decades now, and it seems likely this will affect MVP voters in 2023 as well.
When evaluating the three leading candidates, Embiid has played 61 games, and after missing tonight will only be able to reach 69 games played if he plays all remaining contests. Giannis Antetokounmpo can reach a maximum of 67 games played, currently sitting at 59 with eight games remaining for the Bucks. Jokic has already played 66 games and will be able to reach 74 if he plays the eight remaining that Denver has.