NBA teams are between 9 and 11% done with their regular seasons. The league’s 77th year of operation features storylines like Victor Wembanyama Watch, how Hawkeye technology affects the game aside from player and referee relations, which team James Harden has soured on this time, the inaugural In-Season Tournament, the impact of the new Player Participation Policy, etc. But we are here for the most polarizing of them all: The MVP race.
Before getting into the thick of it, here are some fun facts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the lone winner on a team that didn’t make the Playoffs (1976). No other baller aside from Bob Pettit has claimed the crown on a 30-win squad (33, 1956). Thirteen guys have won two in a row, and just three have won thrice consecutively, with one other doing the same in the ABA (Julius Erving).
Let’s review how it’s going so far, according to this scribe.
Tatum’s effective field goal percentage (62.1) while attempting .7 shots fewer than last season is remarkable. Most of his attempts come above the break and in the restricted area, where he converts 39.6% and 80% from the field. Great new additions, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, pressure defenses by themselves, opening things up for Taco Jay and Co..
Aside from scoring, Tatum limits opponents’ possessions by logging a career-high in defensive rebounds (9.1). He’s also been making life for his teammates easier by switching onto guards for 47% of the time he’s on defense and holding them to 37.1% shooting.
Playing on such a loaded squad hurts his case because he will not have to produce like other candidates. In seven outings, he’s only getting to the line 5.3 times, down from 8.4 last year, although five of these matches have been on the road, with Boston winning three. Away from TD Garden, Tatum is logging 3.4 more points, shooting 7% higher from the field.