No matter who you are or what team you play for, the MVP debate affects us all. Just ask Chicago Bulls big man Nikola Vucevic.
Ahead of the NBA’s Friday slate of games, Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic is the clubhouse leader for the award.
The Serbian center is averaging 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.4 steals nightly for a Western Conference contender.
His case for MVP seems pretty concrete on its face. And yet…
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A Polarizing Opinion
If you’re not familiar already, Nick Wright of Fox Sports 1’s First Things First lit NBA Twitter ablaze on Thursday.
The TV analyst made a mockery of Nikola Jokic as an MVP candidate, citing him as the worst candidate in the last 35 years:
The MVP having to be awarded in some hallway somewhere because he’s not playing in round two ain’t great. When you look at the list of MVPs in league history, I say this with respect to Jokic, historically speaking, he’d be the worst one we’ve had in 35 years.
It’s unclear exactly who Wright’s referring to within his 35-year timeframe, given that it was Larry Bird who won the award in 1986.
Regardless, his opinion caught flack from a number of players, including the Chicago Bulls’ very own Nikola Vucevic.
The two-time All-Star replied to Wright’s comments on Twitter by questioning his legitimacy as an analyst:
Vucevic isn’t a common voice on Twitter either, so trust that he feels strongly about this topic.
The last tweet he typed out was a message to LaMarcus Aldridge on April 15th, when the seven-time All-Star abruptly retired due to health complications.
He doesn’t get a vote as a player, but if he did, there’s little doubt as to what Nikola Vucevic’s MVP ballot would look like.
LaVine, Vucevic Fuels Bulls to Win in Returns
In other news, both the Chicago Bulls’ All-Stars returned from absences on Thursday night.
Nikola Vucevic lit the Charlotte Hornets up with 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the field and five-of-seven shooting from deep.
And Zach LaVine, coming off of an 11-game absence due to COVID-19 protocol, put up 13 points on five-of-11 shooting from the floor.
The result? A rare Chicago win, keeping the Bulls alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
On getting back his All-Star teammate, Vucevic (via NBC Sports) was enthusiastic:
It was huge. Obviously, we’re a much different team with Zach out there, obviously a much better team with him in the lineup. Obviously you know it’s gonna take him some time to get back in rhythm and be himself. But just to have him out there he’s obviously a big threat on the offensive end. He opens up so much for everybody else, so it’s just a great boost mentally for everybody too.
With both All-Stars healthy and on the floor, Chicago is 4-5 this season.
Given the nature of Vucevic’s mid-season arrival at the trade deadline, and the Bulls’ lack of time to properly integrate the two players, there’s reason to remain optimistic about their fit going forward.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
After their win over the Charlotte Hornets, the Chicago Bulls improve to 27-39.
That’s good for the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference, and three games back of the 10th seed Washington Wizards.
Five Thirty Eight has the Bulls’ playoff chances at less than one percent.
Elsewhere, Tankathon.com has Chicago’s remaining schedule as the 11th most difficult in the entire NBA.
Action Network gives them just a 14.6 percent chance to land in the 10th seed, and punch their ticket to playoffs.
As well as a 63.5 percent chance to finish 11th, and a 20.3 percent chance to finish 12th.
So the odds are stacked against the Chicago Bulls, who are 4-6 in their last 10.
Six games to go.