Lakers Coach Frank Vogel Weighs in on MVP Debate

Getty Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.

In the mind of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, there’s no question who should be the MVP — and it’s not heavy favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo

Vogel backed Lakers superstar LeBron James for the NBA’s top honor while speaking to reporters on Saturday.

“Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James,” Vogel told reporters. “I do believe that he should be MVP this year.”

James led the Lakers to the top of the Western Conference and adapted his game in Year 17 to exactly what the team needed. At the time of the stoppage, James was averaging 34.9 minutes per games, 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a league-leading 10.6 assists, pulling himself into the MVP conversation.

“He’s in the gym early, he’s leaving late and he’s the last guy working — and probably working the longest and the hardest,” Lakers veteran Danny Green said of James in Orlando. “He hasn’t changed at all, man.”

The award would be James’ fifth MVP, but first since 2013. He won the award in 2009, ’10, ’12 and ’13. Here are the full odds for MVP, per Odds Shark, which has Antetokounmpo as a huge favorite.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo -3500
  • LeBron James +650
  • James Harden +5000
  • Luka Doncic +5000
  • Anthony Davis +8000
  • Damian Lillard +8000
  • Nikola Jokic +8000
  • Kawhi Leonard +10000
  • Russell Westbrook +10000

LeBron James Not Motivated by MVP Award

LeBron James, Lakers

GettyLeBron James, Lakers

Vogel also backed Anthony Davis for Defensive Player of the Year. The former No. 1 overall pick has built quite the case for the award this season, becoming a monster backstop for the Lakers much-improved defense. At the time the NBA season was put on hold, Davis led the Lakers in blocks per game with 2.4, which was good for third in the NBA. He also led L.A. in steals per game at 1.5 and impacted the game beyond the box score, showing an ability to guard every position and even affecting three-point shooters with his large wingspan.

Davis has been clear that reeling in his first DPOY honor is a goal.

“I want to be Defensive Player of the Year. I think if I’m able to do that, I can help this team win,” Davis said in September (h/t Bleacher Report). “I want to make sure me and LeBron are on the All-Defensive Team. And for me personally, I just want to be the Defensive Player of the Year. If we’re able to hold teams under 100 [points], which is probably unrealistic but it should be our goal, I think we’ll have a shot at winning the title.”

James, on the other hand, has said the only trophy that motivates him in the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

“Regular-season MVP has never motivated me. To be the best to ever play in the game has motivated me and has resulted in me being league MVP a couple of times,” James said during the season. “I’ve never gone into the season saying, ‘League MVP is where I want to be.’ I’ve gone into the season saying, ‘I want to be the MVP of this team and I want to be the best player in the world with how I approach my game every day and how I take care of my body.’”

Race for NBA Awards Already Over

The NBA has revealed that what happens in Orlando during the seeding games will have no bearing on postseason accolades. This includes: All-NBA honors, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Executive of the Year.

“The decision to exclude seeding games from awards voting ensures a fair process in which players and coaches from all 30 teams will have the same opportunity to be honored as top performers for the regular season,” the NBA said in a memo sent to teams Friday. Only 22 of the league’s 30 teams are playing in Orlando.

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