The Key Factors to Becoming an NBA MVP

Each year, the NBA MVP Award goes to the player voted as the best performing player in the league. Winning the Maurice Podoloff Trophy is a special honor in the NBA, with broadcasters and sportswriters from Canada and the United States deciding who takes the prize. Since the award began at the conclusion of the 1955-56 season, legendary players like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Shaquille O'Neal have all claimed the trophy.

Given the ambiguous nature of the NBA MVP criteria of being the best performing player, everyone's selection for the award is very subjective. This season, it appears as though James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo have emerged as the favorites. Even though there isn't a clear line to being named NBA MVP, there are some distinct factors that historically stand as major indicators for a player's claim.

Contributing factors to becoming NBA MVP

As is the case across the world of sport, stellar stat lines earn a great deal of leverage in the voting for the best player. In basketball, points have long been a primary indicator, with four of the last five NBA MVP winners leading the points column. This season, as recorded by TSN, Harden obliterated the points column with an average of 36.1 points per game, 8.1 ahead of Paul George and 8.4 ahead of Antetokounmpo.

Assists also play a part, with an emphasis on being a team-carrying player likely being a contributing factor in the voting. Eight of the last ten winners of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy have been among the top 10 in the league for assists. In the grand scheme of things, however, these appear to be more complimentary to the eventual decision of who becomes the NBA MVP.

Major factors to becoming NBA MVP

One of the most important factors to claiming the NBA MVP title is to be a part of the best team in the league. While the Golden State Warriors may be considered the best team in the league, the team also need to rank as the best in the standings. Throughout the history of the award, it has been incredibly rare for the NBA MVP to be playing on a team residing outside of the top three seeds from either conference.

Over the last 10 years, seven NBA MVPs have played for the team that finished with the best regular season record.

Another important factor, as found by a Betway study, has been found to be the prospective MVP's player efficiency rating, with eight of the last 10 winners leading in the PER column. As recorded by ESPN during the regular season, only three players breached the 30.00-mark in PER, with Anthony Davis clocking 30.32, James Harden at 30.62, and Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way with 30.95.


It seems that, for the most part, the NBA MVP isn't solely decided by putting points on the board but also by the strength of the team that they are a part of and their player efficiency rating. It is because of these reasons that Business Insider finds Giannis Antetokounmpo as the leader for the 2018-19 NBA MVP award despite James Harden leading in the points column.

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