Luka Doncic : There’s no denying the sobering effects of drinking cricket tea and snacking on skewers of battered and fried lamb tongue.
NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks showed respect for his peers during an appearance on Serge Ibaka’s “How Hungry Are You?” show on YouTube, which gives an idea of the abundance of incredible talent throughout the league and the difficulty of properly ordering all these virtuoso performances night after night.
After Ibaka said, “Do you feel like you are the face of the league?” At once, Antetokounmpo shifted the focus of the inquiry.
Am I OK with the idea that I am a public figure in this league? Antetokounmpo said “yes.” The NBA would be nothing without LeBron James. The game is not over yet. Currently, Steph [Curry] is the champion. It seems like [Kevin Durant] isn’t done hooping just yet. Embiid’s (Joel) assassination. Back-to-back MVP awards go to Nikola Jokic. Magic from Luka [Doncic]. People are in plenty.
Starting off Week 4 of the NBA season as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, one of them eventually jumped into the top 10 of the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder in spectacular way. After two very tremendous outings, Embiid breaks into this edition at No. 6.
Embiid, the league’s leading scorer from the previous year, had an incredible weekend, scoring 101 points in two wins in less than 24 hours. This included a career-high 59 points in a 105-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night. After scoring 28 points, the 28-year-old added 11 boards, eight assists, and seven blocks in the season’s most apparent show of two-way domination.
In addition to being the first NBA player to record at least 50 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks in an outing since 1973-74, the big man scored 26 of the Sixers’ 27 points in the fourth quarter alone (when blocks became an official NBA statistic).
Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers observed, “I’ve seen players score a lot of points.” I haven’t seen men’s basketball teams where the players score a lot of points, get a lot of rebounds, and block a lot of shots. Astonishing, really. Everything was falling into his lap. Aside from the greatest offensive and defensive performances I’ve ever seen, I’ve never seen anything like this.
The whole world noticed.
The Sixers will welcome Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Friday, so we can see two of the league’s best players in action (7:30 ET, ESPN). In their last matchup, the Bucks started their season with a 90-88 victory in Philadelphia, with Giannis Antetokounmpo almost recording a triple-double and Joel Embiid scoring 15 points on 6-for-21 shooting (21 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists). When facing the Sixers, the Bucks have won eight of the past nine times.
This week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder has a new top five, with Antetokounmpo falling to fourth and Doncic rising to first, in addition to the addition of two-time MVP winner Nikola Jokic at fifth.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Oklahoma City moves up to #7 as a result of his consistent stat-packing. The Warriors may have lost again on Wednesday, but Curry still had a remarkable effort and is holding on to No. 10.
Here are the top five finishers in the 2022–23 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder:
No.1 Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic
Second place, one week ago
Throughout the year, he averaged 34.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game.
Doncic is the NBA’s top scorer, and he’s the main reason the Mavericks (8-6) sit in seventh place in the Western Conference. After scoring 30 or more points in eight of his team’s first nine games, the 23-year-old slowed down a bit, but he still managed to score 42 and 35 points in victories over Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively, before sitting out Wednesday’s loss to the Houston Rockets. According to teammate John Schuhmann, Curry’s 70.1% true shooting percentage dwarfs Doncic’s 60.4%, which highlights his supremacy via career-best efficiency.
No. 2 Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
The previous week’s position was third.
Season stats: 31.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.1 apg
The maturation in Tatum’s game was on display in the first quarter of Boston’s 126-101 triumph against Atlanta. For the first seven minutes of the game, the 24-year-old was 1-for-7 from the field (and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc). However, he still managed to help the team in other ways, as seen by his six assists and one steal in the first period, which helped the Celtics take a 30-18 lead at the break. Tatum struggled to make 3-pointers for much of the game, but he nailed 3-of-10 attempts (and helped Boston to its eighth straight victory) with his shooting.
No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo
When we last checked, you were at the top of the charts.
Regular season averages: 29.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists
Milwaukee beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-98 on Wednesday despite the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has missed two of the Bucks’ previous four games. He scored 16 points, grabbed 12 boards, and dished out eight assists in the contest. Antetokounmpo is second in the NBA in rebounds per game and is averaging a career-high 29.9 points per contest (11.8 rpg). Jrue Holiday (sprained right ankle) has missed the last four games but may return on Friday in Philadelphia, so his supporting cast may be able to assist out a little. Joe Ingles, Pat Connaughton, and Khris Middleton have yet to make their season debuts.
No. 4 Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets
A week ago, it was ranked seventh.
Statistics for the year: 20.8% FG, 9.5% FT, 8.9% AST
We wish the Serbian a swift recovery, as it is great to see him back among the top five players on our list for the first time since we began compiling it. Jokic sat out Wednesday’s defeat to the visiting New York Knicks after he enrolled in the NBA’s Health and Safety standards on Tuesday. The Nuggets are third in the Western Conference and had won five of six games with Jokic starting until Wednesday. Although his scoring totals aren’t eye-popping, Jokic has been instrumental in many of the team’s victories.
No. 5 Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Previous week’s position: #5
Yearly averages: 29.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.8 assists
Since Morant’s backcourt mate Desmond Bane suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe and will miss the next 2-3 weeks, the Grizzlies have dropped two in a row, and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that they’ll return to the top five any time soon. Morant has been putting in work on both offense and defense, as evidenced by a few jaw-dropping highlights in Tuesday’s loss in New Orleans. Morant scored 36 points in that game, his seventh 30-point performance of the season, while the other four starters combined for just 37 points.