• Ian Evans

Top 5 Candidates for the Player of the Seeding Games Award (Bubble MVP)

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

On August 12, 2020, the NBA announced that there will be Player of the Seeding Games Award, as well as an All-Seeding Games Team. These awards will honor the players that have performed at a significantly high level as well as those who have put on exceptional performances during the seeding games. Sportswriters, broadcasters, and journalists will determine who the recipients of these honors will be. With that being said, here are the top 5 candidates for the Player of the Seeding Games Award.

Honorable Mention: Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks)

Photo Courtesy: D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images

Kristaps Porzingis has been averaging 30.5 PPG on 47.6% shooting from the field. In the 7 games the Mavericks have played, Porzingis recorded two double-doubles. However, he has fouled out of 3 of the 7 games they have played. Nonetheless, Porzingis has been spectacular and has been a major reason why the Mavericks are 4-3 in the bubble.

1. Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)

Photo Courtesy: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP

Who would have thought that the Phoenix Suns would be the only team still left undefeated in the NBA bubble. You could credit the win streak to rest after the league shut down in March or you could credit it to the team chemistry the Suns have formed in the bubble. But the main reason why the Suns are undefeated is because of one name, Devin Booker. D-Book is personally my NBA Bubble MVP. The moment that catapulted him into this conversation was when he hit the mid-range buzzer-beater over Paul George who can’t seem to catch a break contesting last-second shots. Booker scored 35 points in that game to life the Suns over the Clippers 117-115. Devin Booker is averaging 31 PPG on 49.7% shooting from the field and nearly 35% from the three-point line. He’s also tacked on 6 APG as well during his time in Orlando. He has scored over 30 points in four of the six games the Suns has played and he shows no signs of stopping. The Suns look to remain undefeated and reach 8-0 in the bubble as they take on the Dallas Mavericks later tonight.

2. Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)

Photo Courtesy: USA TODAY Sports

There’s something about feuds, squabbles, and trash talk in basketball that incites and brings forth the best performances. Case and point, Damian Lillard. We have Paul George and Patrick Beverly (and Skip Bayless) to thank for Dame’s ridiculous performances. Dame has been unconscious in the bubble and is leading all players in scoring, averaging 37 PPG on 48.5% shooting from the field and 41.4% from the three-point line. In Lillard’s last two games, Lillard dropped 51 points against the 76ers and dropped poured in 61 against the Mavericks, both games resulting in wins for Portland. Portland is 5-2 in the bubble and Lillard is the main reason why they have been successful. They are still currently in the race for the 8th seed in the playoffs, trailing the Memphis Grizzlies and tied with the red hot Phoenix Suns (no pun intended). If Portland wants to get that 8th seed and provide a potentially exciting first round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lillard will be the key to their playoff berth. It’s about time everyone start putting some respect on his name.

3. T.J. Warren (Indiana Pacers)

Photo Courtesy: Ashley Landis, Pool-Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Many NBA players have nicknames based on their performances, physical appearance, and other attributes that are associated to them as well. For example, there are names such as “Untucked Kyrie”, “Masked LeBron”, “The Beard”, “The Greek Freak”, and even “Gang Sign John Wall.” Enter NBA Bubble T.J. Warren. The NC State product has been a nearly unstoppable once he stepped foot in Orlando. In his first game in the bubble, Warren put up 53 points and shot 69% from the field. He later went on to score 30+ points in 3 of the last 5 games he played in. Indiana is 5-2 in the bubble and Warren is a key contributor to that record. The reason why he would not win this award is because Jimmy Butler, who has sparked a feud with T.J. Warren, kept him in check holding him to just 14 points (5-14 FG) in a 114-92 loss to the Miami Heat. The kicker in all of this…..in 2019, the Suns dealt Warren to the Pacers for cash considerations. The Pacers basically stole Warren from the Suns and it is paying off handsomely for Indiana.

4. Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Photo Courtesy: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Luka Doncic has had some unreal performances in the bubble that have caught the attention of the NBA world. Doncic is averaging 32 PPG (3rd behind James Harden and Damian Lillard) on 47.5% shooting from the field even while somewhat struggling from the three-point line (29.3%). He has scored 30+ points in 3 of the 7 seeding games the Mavericks have played in and has also recorded 3 triple-doubles, the most notable one being a 136-132 overtime win against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. In that dominant performance, Doncic poured in 36 points, 14 rebounds, and an astounding 19 assists. Doncic leads the league in triple-doubles with 17 and shows no signs of stopping going into the playoffs. The Mavericks, however, are 3-4 in the bubble, which could lead to him not winning the award. However, regardless of the record, Doncic has been sensational to watch since the NBA’s restart.

5. James Harden (Houston Rockets)

Photo Courtesy: USA TODAY Sports

Harden is one of the best scorers to ever touch a basketball and he has showed why he is one of the best scorers, if not the best scorer in the league, with his performances in the bubble. Harden is averaging 35.3 PPG (2nd to only Lillard) on 53.6% shooting from the field and is also shooting nearly 37% from the three-point line. The Beard has once again shown the NBA world that it is nearly impossible to guard him from the perimeter and that he is still volume scorer that can still produce on a high level night in and night out. The only reason why he would not win this award is because the Rockets are 4-3 in the bubble. This is significant as the Rockets were in a position to get a better seed in the playoffs. Houston is currently the 5th seed and are tied with the surprisingly dominant Oklahoma City Thunder in regards to record at 44-27. If the Rockets want to secure the 4th seed, they must hope that the Thunder fall off and will have to win their seeding game against the Philadelphia 76ers. And as always with Harden as the best player on the team, he will be the reason why they could get the 4th seed.

The awards will be announced Saturday, August 15th, 2020 before the Western Conference playoffs begin. Keep a keen eye on these players as the seeding games are starting to come to an end.

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