The NBA may not be including seeding games when naming a league MVP this season, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be an MVP from inside the bubble.
The league announced on Tuesday that it will honor the Player of the Seeding Games — effectively an MVP of the eight seeding games held at Walt Disney World. It will also name an All-Seeding Games Team.
The recipients will be determined from a panel of reporters and broadcasters who are on site in Florida, per the release. They will vote for five players for the First Team and five players for the Second Team, and will be allowed to select 10 players from any position from either conference.
The awards will be announced on Saturday before the first game of the Western Conference play-in series. The final seeding games will end on Friday after each team has finished its eight games inside the bubble. The playoffs are slated to start on Monday.
Outside of the obvious choices for spots on the All-Seeding Games Team — Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and Luka Doncic have shined inside the bubble, as expected — both Devin Booker and T.J. Warren have likely played themselves into contention more so than anyone else.
Booker has led the Phoenix Suns to an undefeated 6-0 start, something that kept them alive in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. He’s averaged 30.3 points and six assists since play resumed, and has scored at least 30 points in four of their six games. He dropped 35 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, too.
Warren’s strong play seemed to come out of nowhere during the restart. After averaging less than 20 points per contest in the regular season, the Indiana Pacers forward dropped 53 points in their opening game against the Philadelphia 76ers while shooting an insane 9-of-12 from the 3-point line. He followed it up with a pair of 30-point games, and then put up 39 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. The 26-year-old undoubtedly has found his game at Walt Disney World.
Regular season awards finalists
The NBA announced finalists for its six individual awards earlier this week, though only considered games played before the league suspended play in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was joined by LeBron James and James Harden in the MVP race. Former Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic didn’t make the cut for that award, though is up for the Most Improved Player award. Ja Morant has long been a heavy favorite for the Rookie of the Year award, and was joined by Kendrick Nunn and Zion Williamson as favorites there.
Mike Budenholzer, Billy Donovan and Nick Nurse are all up for Coach of the Year, too. Both Budenholzer and Donovan tied for the NBCA Coach of the Year award earlier this month.
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