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There Is A Bad Award Problem In The NBA

This year, the NBA MVP race is one of the best in recent years. Between the Mavericks' Luka Doncic, the Nuggets' Nikola Jokic, and the Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there are several incredible options, all with proper claims to the award.


While it is tough and divisive, I've already established that Luka Doncic should be the rightful winner of the award this year. However, through the research for that article, I learned there was a problem plaguing the NBA's awards. 

What Do I Mean By Problem? 

The NBA has a problem with awards; it does not necessarily give them to whoever is the most deserving of the prize but whoever looks best. For clarification, the Most Improved Player award was given to the 76ers' Tyrese Maxey. Maxey stepped up this year, increasing his stats in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game.


Maxey also did this when his team needed him most. After MVP Joel Embiid went down, Maxey stepped up and carried the 76ers to the play-in and got their more-than-deserved playoff spot against the Knicks. Unfortunately, however, Maxey did not deserve this award. 


The most improved player in the NBA this year was Coby White. White took massive leaps across the board in terms of his stats, increasing everywhere that Maxey did by even more than Maxey did. White also became the primary ball-handler and floor general for the Bulls while dragging them to play-in with a primarily injured roster supporting him.


White changed from a decent role player off the bench who could contribute to a contender to a nightly starter who became integral to the Bulls offense. While Maxey was enormous in helping the 76ers reach the playoffs, it doesn't compare to the impact of White's improvement in his skills and stats. 


So What Exactly Is This Problem? 

The NBA does what is best for the big names and the players. Tyrese Maxey was an all-star this year and has risen to stardom in the flourishing franchise of the 76ers. Coby White, on the other hand, while incredibly good, is not an all-star and is stuck on the less-than-idealless-than-ideal Chicago Bulls. The NBA does not give the award to whoever deserves it but to what will help the big names and the NBA look good. Let's look at another example.


Despite Nikola Jokic beating Joel Embiid out in assists, impact, and team success, the MVP was given to Embiid mere days before the Boston Celtics sent him home. While most chalked Embiid's win up to "voter fatigue," I believe it was the NBA's effort to help Embiid's name and legacy by giving him an award that many felt he had been snubbed of previously. I should also note that this example is about a 76er, and the correlation was not intentional. 


How Can The NBA Fix This?

Luckily for the NBA, it is simple. Awards must go to players who deserve them, and voters don't need to worry about whose turn it is or who fans should/will recognize. More fans know Tyrese Maxey than Coby White; that is a fact. However, it is also a fact that White improved drastically more than Maxey did this year and deserved the award more than Maxey did.


The NBA was scared to give it to White because not nearly as many fans would know his name. We saw the same issue the year Ja Morant won the award over his teammate Desmond Bane because he was the former number two overall pick and much more flashy. Morant even agreed with this sentiment and gifted the prize to Bane, signifying that he believed Bane deserved the award.


For awards like this, Defensive Player of the Year, All-Rookie Teams, and more, the NBA needs not to be scared about fans knowing the players and give the awards to those who deserve them. Coby White got robbed, but the NBA can fix it in the future. 

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