Kia MVP Ladder: Jason Tatum, Joel Embiid keep flying

Dallas’ continued woes with defense could damage the case of once-strong Kia MVP Luka Doncic.

Speaking specifically about his team’s leaky defense, Dallas coach Jason Kidd may have inadvertently predicted Luka Doncic’s seemingly waning odds of winning the Kia MVP award.

Like Doncic, the Mavericks can score.

Like Doncic, the club also struggles to prevent opponents from putting the ball in the basket.

dallas 130-122 loss The Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday provided the latest evidence, as the Mavericks lost their third straight game, after allowing an average of 135.3 points on each of those setbacks heading into Friday’s showdown with the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Center (USA).7:30 ET, ESPN).

When asked how to stop the bleeding, Kidd stormed into his squad.

He said, “If it’s with those individuals, you have to keep asking or requiring those players to play defense.” “It’s not just an offensive end. Tonight, once again, we surrendered 130 [points]. The team fired 57%. It’s shooting. in this league, [if] Do it, regardless of whether you have luca or cream [Abdul-Jabbar] or lebron [James]you will lose.

“It doesn’t matter how many points you score, you’ll always be short. So until we make a better effort playing defense and understanding what we have to do, we’ll score 120. But we’ll give up 130, 140. One night, we might give up 150. But we’ll be fine.” Because we scored, so it won’t look so bad.”

Interestingly, the situation almost mirrors Doncic in his quest to win his first player. The 23-year-old has been consistently pumping out flashy numbers on offense. But of all the players ranked in the top five in this week’s Kia Race to MVP Ladder race, Doncic has the worst defensive rating (115.3).

While no one expects night-after-night shutout performances from a three-time All-Star, if his current defensive rating continues, it will be recorded as a career low for a Cannes captain. VII last season In defensive rating (109.1), but 25 in this section (115.0) in 2022-23.

“In the last few games, we’ve scored close to 130 goals in almost every game,” said Doncic. “I think we are fine in attack. We have to put in the same effort in defense as in attack.”

Losers in six of their last eight games, the Mavericks face a Miami team on Friday that has won seven of its last 10, including Wednesday’s 124-98 road victory against a New Orleans team that was missing CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.

Colleague John Schumann points out that Miami Bench improvement played a role in the last boom. Meanwhile, the Mavericks welcomed their two best outside perimeter defensemen Dorian Feeney-Smith and Josh Green on Wednesday, and that should help against the Heat. But Dallas also announced Thursday that power forward Christian Wood (left thumb fracture) will be so out at least a week.

That makes Dwight Powell and Javel McGee the only healthy people on the list because Maxi Clipper continues rehab from December Right hamstring surgery.

As for this week’s edition of the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder, Doncic dropped two places to fourth as seven teams are 1 1/2 games or less behind Dallas in the Western Conference standings.

Jason Tatum jumped back into second place on the heels of Boston’s overtime victory Thursday over the Golden State Warriors, while Joel Embiid moved up to third after leading Philadelphia to a fourth on their current five-game road outside the West.

And now, the top five places in Kia’s 2022-23 race to MVP ladder:

1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Last week’s ranking: No. 1

Season stats: 25.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 9.9 apg

Count it. We are now at 90 career triple-doubles for Nikola Jokic, who No. 14 for this season (Not to mention his fifth start in six games) in Wednesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a day after losing a 36-point triple-double against Portland. Russell Westbrook is the last player (2021) to rack up five triple-doubles in six games, and the Nuggets are a perfect 14-0 when Jokic hits that baseline. the All the time the leader helps In Nuggets franchise history, Jokic has lost 37 dimes in just their last three games as Denver has won eight in a row, including 15 straight home victories. Jokic has shot no worse than 60% from the floor in his last five matches. embarrassed.

Why Nikola Jokic keeps fending off Jason Tatum, Joel Embiid on top of the ladder.

2. Jason Tatum, Boston Celtics

Last week’s ranking: Number 3

Season stats: 31.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.3 apg

He fell 34 points with a high of 19 rebounds in Boston’s overtime victory over Golden State, helping the Celtics to their eighth straight victory. Dating back to the last three games of the 2022 NBA Finals, Boston lost four straight games to Golden State, but that changed Thursday night. “We lost the championship. Nobody can take that back,” Tatum said when discussing the Celtics’ mentality going into the game. “So we didn’t look at this as a rematch of the Finals. It’s just one game against a great team with great players and a great coach. But it was just one match.”

Jason Tatum walks off the Warriors with 34 points and 19 rebounds to lead them to a 121-118 overtime win.

3. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Last week’s ranking: no 5

Season stats: 33.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.2 apg

The steady rise continues. Embiid missed three straight games from January 4-8, but came back with a vengeance, averaging 34.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg, and 1.8 bpg in the six games since. The Sixers won four games in a row on their five-game Western road trip and won eight of their first 10 games in January to move into a second-place showdown with the Bucks in the East. “I think we’re good, I think we can be really good,” said Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers. Much of it depends on Embiid’s continued production on both ends of the floor, such as The Big Guy and James Harden It seems to be going very fast.

Joel Embiid had 32 points and nine rebounds in a win against Portland.

4. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Last week’s ranking: Number 2

Season stats: 33.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 8.8 apg

Registration is not the problemAnd neither is shooting, considering the Mavs have shot 50% or better from the field in three of their last four games. Doncic leads the NBA with 31 30-point games this season, also a career high. But the 23-year-old – and the rest of the team – need to significantly improve Dallas’ defense to get back to their winning ways, which will only improve Doncic’s chances at MVP. It’s not like this team isn’t capable either, as evidenced by last season’s run to the West Finals with Doncic as a willing defensive participant. Every other player in the top 5 on this list carries a defensive rating of 111.3 f since christmasDallas has the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA (121.9).

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Last week’s ranking: No. 4

Season stats: 31.0 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 5.3 apg

Antetokounmpo did not play Since January 11th, when he scored a season-low seven points in a win over Atlanta while contributing 18 rebounds and 10 assists. He has missed Milwaukee’s last four games knee ache, but the Bucks aren’t as concerned about the future availability of the two-time MVP as he was expecting his return soon, according to head coach Mike Budenholzer. “Taking care of him is always our priority,” Budenholzer said. “It is likely that we will always err on the side of caution because we know how important it is to us.” At 31 ppg, Antetokounmpo is set to produce the highest-scoring season of his career and the third-best season in Bucks history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 10 assists and 18 rebounds in his last game.

The next five

Michael C. Wright explains why Ja Morant doesn’t make the top five on the Kia MVP ladder, and why that shouldn’t be considered a “disdain.”

6. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Last week’s ranking: No. 7)
7. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (Last week’s ranking: No. 6)
8. Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers (Last week’s ranking: No. 8)
9. Gilgos Alexander Tea (Last week’s ranking: No. 10)
10. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics (Last week’s ranking: No. 9)

And five more (in alphabetical order): Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors; James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers; Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz; Julius Randle, New York Knicks; Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings

* * *

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can email him hereFind his archive here and follow him Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery Sports.

Leave a Comment