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SGA for MVP?: Gilgeous-Alexander vying to develop into 1st Canadian NBAer to win award since Nash

That is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports activities’ each day e mail publication. Keep up to the mark on what’s taking place in sports activities by subscribing right here.

2023 has been a implausible yr for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The rising basketball star from Hamilton, Ont., accomplished his breakthrough season within the NBA, led the Canadian males’s nationwide workforce to an historic bronze medal on the FIBA World Cup, and final week gained the Northern Star Award for Canadian athlete of the yr.

However 2024 is perhaps even larger for SGA. Earlier than he leads Canada into its first Olympic males’s basketball event in practically 1 / 4 century, he has an opportunity to develop into the primary Canadian since Steve Nash practically 20 years in the past to win the NBA’s Most Useful Participant award.

Gilgeous-Alexander bought his first style of MVP buzz final season, when he positioned fifth within the voting after scoring 31.4 factors per recreation (the fourth-best common within the league) and main the rebuilding Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder to a play-in berth. Along with his first All-Star choice, Gilgeous-Alexander was named to the much more unique All-NBA First Workforce, beating out Steph Curry and different family names for one of many two guard spots.

Gilgeous-Alexander (2) poses with teammates after Canada’s 127-118 win over the US within the FIBA Basketball World Cup bronze-medal recreation in September. SGA was named to the All-Event workforce. (Yong Teck Lim/Getty Photographs)

This season, Gilgeous-Alexander is taking part in even higher. A few third of the best way into his sixth NBA marketing campaign, the 25-year-old as soon as once more ranks fourth within the league in scoring (30.7 factors per recreation), with important will increase to his field-goal proportion and his help and rebounding numbers. In the meantime, his turnovers are down and his steals are method up, from 1.6 to a staggering 2.8 per recreation — a full steal greater than anyone else within the league is averaging. To place that in perspective, the hole between SGA and No. 2 steals man Donovan Mitchell is the same as the one between Mitchell and the One hundred and tenth-ranked gamers within the league.

Because of his glorious work at each ends of the court docket, ESPN’s all-encompassing Participant Effectivity Ranking (PER) ranks Gilgeous-Alexander because the third-best participant within the NBA, behind reigning MVP Joel Embiid and reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic.

Past the stats, anybody who watches SGA play can see that he is blossomed into a real celebrity. He has the talents and the smarts to create his personal shot at any time when he desires, in addition to go, rebound and play defence at an elite stage. He is the whole bundle.

Workforce success can also be essential to profitable the NBA’s highest particular person honour, and SGA’s case is robust there too as he is helped elevate the Thunder from fringe playoff workforce to championship contender. Their 17-8 document ranks second within the Western Convention, forward of Jokic’s defending-champion Denver Nuggets (18-10) and only a tick behind Embiid’s Jap-power Philadelphia 76ers (18-8) for the fifth-best document in all the league. The underlying stats verify OKC is for actual: they rank third total in Web Ranking, which measures a workforce’s level differential per 100 possessions.

The betting markets are additionally fairly bullish on Gilgeous-Alexander’s probabilities for MVP. The one gamers with higher odds to win the Michael Jordan Trophy in the mean time are Jokic, Embiid, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dallas’ Luka Doncic, who Gilgeous-Alexander outplayed on the World Cup.

As SGA continues to construct his MVP case, here is a fast check-in on a few of the different Canadian standouts within the NBA:

Jamal Murray: Canada’s second-best NBA participant has missed half of Denver’s 28 video games thus far attributable to hamstring and ankle accidents — a giant purpose why the reigning champs are off to a gradual begin by their requirements. The seventh-year guard is averaging 18.3 factors per recreation, which might be his lowest common in 4 seasons, however his manufacturing ought to rise if and when his minutes return to regular ranges.

Dillon Brooks: The mercurial ahead introduced one of the best model of himself to the World Cup, the place his toughness and depth — to not point out his national-record 39 factors within the bronze-medal recreation — helped Canada seize its first-ever medal within the event. Although his four-year, $86-million US contract with Houston was roundly mocked, Brooks and the Rockets, who additionally signed former Raptor Fred VanVleet, are a surprisingly strong 13-11 after ending close to the underside of the league final season. 

Andrew Wiggins: Between Draymond Inexperienced’s indefinite suspension and 35-year-old Steph Curry’s exhibiting indicators of slowing down, it seems the Warriors dynasty may lastly be nearing an finish. Wiggins hasn’t accomplished a lot to forestall the decline. He is averaging a career-low 12.6 factors and not too long ago misplaced his spot within the beginning lineup.

Others: Fifth-year Knicks wing RJ Barrett’s 18.7 factors per recreation are the second-most amongst Canadians; Portland’s Shaedon Sharpe has made strides in his second NBA season, elevating his scoring common from 9.9 to 17.4 whereas changing into a starter; Second-year Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin’s scoring is down a few factors per recreation, to 14.2, however his assists are up for an Indiana workforce that leads the league in scoring and reached the ultimate of the brand new In-Season Event.

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