Kierrla Yates, Staff Writer
As the second half of the 2019-2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season approaches, the race for Most Valuable Player (MVP) is heating up. On Jan. 4, the NBA updated their official MVP Ladder, and adjusted it again as of Jan. 31. While some players moved up in the rankings, several fell back down the ladder. Whether the cause for losing footing in the chase was due to injury, or just an “off” game, leader of the race Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks has been untouchable. However, poor performance, injury, and the unforeseeable events of life can still knock down any player, and enable others to rise up.
On Jan. 31, according to the NBA’s Kia Race, the MVP Ladder had Giannis Antetokounmpo in the top position. LeBron James from the Los Angeles Lakers, Kawhi Leonard from the Los Angeles Clippers, Luka Doncic from the Dallas Mavericks, and Jimmy Butler from Miami Heat, fill the rest of the top five spots on the leaderboard.
Positions on the board are far from stable. Both Anthony Davis, from the Lakers, and James Harden, from the Houston Rockets, have slipped into the six and seven positions from their previous spots at four and three. All the while, fan favorite, James, took control of second place, and the dark horse, Damian Lillard, has moved into the ranks as number nine.
Being the dark horse in the chase, Damian Lillard has shown jaw dropping performances in his latest games. In the last 10 games, Lillard has scored an average of 37.4 points which beats Antetokounmpo’s average of 31.8 in the last 10 games. Not only does Lillard put up a fight against the leader, he also has regular season stats higher than current fifth place ranker, Jimmy Butler. Lillard has higher averages in points and assists yet only falls shortly behind in rebounds and steals, making him a real danger to Butler and the sixth, seventh, and eighth place rankers. If this hot streak continues, potential for an upset is in view- but it is never that easy to climb to the top.
Lillard held his own in his recent game against Lebron James and Anthony Davis, who were playing for more than just themselves following the unfortunate and devastating helicopter crash that took the life of basketball icon Kobe Bryant, a former LA Laker. James made a clear tribute to Bryant through a tattoo designed to honor him, and paid tribute on Twitter with the message, “I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man!”
LeBron is one of the greatest players to ever grace the NBA, and with the passion he has for carrying out the legacy of Kobe Bryant, it will be hard to stop him from becoming number one. Nonetheless, the entire team shares a portion of the pain from the loss of Bryant and many teams such as the Trail Blazers have had their moments of tribute.
As the season progresses into the 2020 playoffs, the MVP race is proving to be an exciting competition to witness as the numerous astounding and great basketball players put in their all.