ESPN recently conducted their annual preseason awards panel. Luka Doncic received the third most votes for most valuable player, behind Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Durant is a trendy pick for MVP and he makes a ton of sense from a talent perspective. However, given the Brooklyn Nets loaded roster and Durant’s injury history it is incredibly unlikely that he plays enough to win the award.
Giannis is a fantastic basketball player and is in a very similar place to where Lebron James was heading into 2013. Both had previously won multiple regular season most valuable player awards but were coming off of their first title win. The title win removed a weight from James’ back and should do the same for Giannis. James went on to to dominate the 2013 season, falling one vote shy of being the first unanimous most valuable player.
Giannis should once again dominate the regular season on both ends of the court and with his title in hand, there is no reason for voters to withhold his third most valuable player. This means Luka will have his work cut out for him to win this award but he is absolutely capable of doing it.
Luka will have even more spacing with the addition of Reggie Bullock and without the hectic schedule of last year, Porzingis should improve allowing the Mavericks to fight for a top 4 seed. That team improvement coupled with the gaudy stats Luka will undoubtedly put up should put him squarely in the middle of the conversation for most valuable player.
Former Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle finished in a tie for 8th in coach of the year voting. Jason Kidd received at least one vote for coach of the year as he fell in the others receiving votes category. The Kidd vote may seem ridiculously optimistic if the Mavericks record does indeed improve, a convenient explanation for the media could be that Kidd is the reason. Unsurprisingly, the Mavericks did not have any players receive votes for defensive player of the year or rookie of the year.
Potential Maverick, Goran Dragic did fall in the others receiving votes category for sixth man of the year. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson both failing to receive at least a vote feels like a snub. Brunson finished 4th and Hardaway Jr. finished 5th last season. It is possible and perhaps likely, that the voters believe Hardaway Jr. will be a starter this season making him ineligible for the award. If he does continue to come off of the bench, his microwave scorer style fits in well with the history of the award.
The Mavericks finished 6th in voting for who will win the western conference. That seems about right given the Mavericks talent level, and in fact receiving any votes is a step in the right direction. Overall this survey seems to confirm that Luka is awesome and because of that, the Mavericks have a chance to be good.