NBA All-Star Game MVP trends
Twenty-four of the league’s best athletes will go head-to-head in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, but only one can be crowned the most valuable.
Since 1953 the NBA All-Star Game MVP has been awarded to the most elite performer(s) of the annual exhibition contest, as voted by a panel of media members.
This year the deck is loaded, with six of the top 10 scorers in the league suiting up for Team LeBron (headed by Lakers point forward LeBron James). Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo selected a roster mostly made up of his Eastern Conference mates. Team Giannis has the advantage in blocks, dunks, field-goal percentage, and three-point percentage.
Before tipoff at 8 p.m. ET, inside the United Center in Chicago, let’s analyze the trends behind the NBA All-Star MVP, so you know who to back in the betting market.
Los Angeles Lakers
Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder
New Orleans Pelicans
Golden State Warriors
All-Star MVP by position
A guard has earned the MVP 32 times from 68 games, and four guard/forwards have collected the coveted prize.
The last true center named MVP was Shaquille O’Neal in 2009, while a forward or forward/center has taken home the past three trophies.
Before Anthony Davis’ 2017 win, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, and Russell Westbrook claimed a combined four straight MVPs to represent the guard position.
Since 2010, guards lead forwards 6-4 in MVP awards.
Starter vs. non-starter
Only once in the past 10 All-Star Games has the MVP gone to a reserve. That occurred in 2015, when Westbrook scored 41 points from the bench. He did, however, play the fourth-most minutes on his team.
TB to Russell Westbrook’s historic 2017 All Star Game:— ⚡️ (@TheWestbrookEra) January 7, 2020
- 41 Points
- 16-26 from the FG (62%)
- 7-13 from 3 (54%)
- 7 Assists
- 5 Rebounds
Still can’t believe he was a reserve this season 🤦🏿♂️. Vote Russ for the All Star Game this year y’all please.pic.twitter.com/vgAAacdCkF
East vs. West
Dating back to 2010, a player from the Western Conference has won MVP seven times. The three Eastern Conference players to earn the award either played for the Cleveland Cavaliers (LeBron and Kyrie Irving) or the Miami Heat (Dwyane Wade).
Top scorer in the game
The top scorer of the winning team is most often awarded All-Star Game MVP. Since 2015 that team-high scorer has also been the overall top scorer.
The MVP of 2014, Irving, notched 31 points for the East in its 163-155 win, but the West’s Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant both outscored Irving with 38 points each.
The year before Chris Paul scored 20 points, 10 fewer than West teammate Durant. Paul’s 15 assists and four steals helped push him ahead in the voting.
Team LeBron’s success
Since the NBA eliminated the traditional East-versus-West format, the MVP has come from Team LeBron’s roster, which has won the past two All-Star Games. In 2018 King James accepted the MVP after he tallied 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen (Curry).
The following year, Team LeBron forward Durant put up 31 points and seven rebounds to secure his second MVP trophy.
Durant has also either been named MVP or played on the same team as the MVP since 2015. This year, though, KD will miss the All-Star Game for the first time since 2010, as he’s been sidelined the entire season with an Achilles injury.
Age of All-Star MVP
Since 2010 the average age of the NBA All-Star MVP is 26. James became the youngest player named All-Star MVP, at 21 years and 51 days, in 2006.
O’Neal is the oldest All-Star MVP, at 36 years and 346 days, back in 2009.
Kobe Bryant and Bob Pettit own the most All-Star MVPs, with four each.
James is the only active player with three, and is a strong candidate for a record-tying fourth Sunday. The 16-time All-Star earned his trio of trophies as a Cavalier but never achieved one as a member of the Heat.
Consecutive and co-MVPs
Pettit (1958, 1959) and Westbrook (2015, 2016) are the only players to win back-to-back All-Star Game MVPs.
Pettit also earned one of those as a co-MVP with Elgin Baylor in 1959. Three other games have featured co-MVPs: John Stockton and Karl Malone in 1993, O’Neal and Tim Duncan in 2000, and O’Neal and Bryant in 2009.
Born in the USA
With the exception of Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Irving (Australia), every MVP winner of the past was born in the United States.
A new international player may be added to the list this year, as seven players born outside the U.S. will participate in the All-Star Game on Sunday. Those seven are Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Ben Simmons (Australia), Nikola Jokic (Serbia), Antetokounmpo (Greece), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon), and Rudy Gobert (France).