Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged in Toronto Raptors fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
Guess what: The 2020-21 NBA season is almost over! Doesn’t it feel like it’s been dragging on for about 18 years? Maybe that’s just because the Toronto Raptors are playing in Tampa, and also because they’ve gone through injuries and COVID and Aron Baynes, and they’re closer to the bottom of the standings than they are the top. But whatever the reason, it’s been a looong season.
And yet! According to the latest poll results from SB Nation Reacts... the season was actually too condensed! More than two-thirds of fans around the NBA think the league jammed too many games into the schedule.
On the one hand, this sounds crazy. After all, this season is only 72 games! And it’s running all the way into May! All of which is true. But the season started almost two months late. And most teams faced at least a couple of postponed games which made for more back-to-backs and four-in-five nights in the second half of the season.
Now, why did the NBA do this? Why not let the season just run into July or August? One reason might be the 2021 Olympics; many NBA players play for their home countries and wouldn’t want to miss playing national team games. However, only 44 percent of fans believe that’s a worthy reason for playing games at this pace.
Personally, my preference would have just been to play fewer games. If they’d played 56, even starting in December we’d probably be in the playoffs by now. But that would have meant leaving money on the table, and God forbid the billionaire owners do that!
Raptors Fans Feeling... OK?
Despite the litany of issues facing the team this year, as alluded to above, Raptors fans are actually... feeling pretty good! 75% of those polled said they’re confident in the team’s direction.
Considering the team is in 11th place, on the outside looking in of the play-in picture, that’s impressive. It speaks, one must suppose, to the culture that Masai Ujiri has built, that under his and Bobby Webster’s guidance, the franchise will bounce back from this lost year in Florida and come back strong in 2021-22.
Of course, we still must wait and see if Ujiri himself, a free agent very soon, comes back at all.
(Wondering why we don’t have a fancy graphic for that number? Not enough votes, friends! We clearly need more Raptors representation in these polls, so make your way to the sign-up page here, and have your voice heard each week!)
MVP Locked In?
The Raptors won’t be up for any awards this year (except MVP of my heart, which belongs to Kyle Lowry, always). Thanks to the time missed and the team’s awful record, much-deserving players like Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby probably won’t even get All-Defense nods.
Nevertheless, the awards hype machine marches on, sidestepping Tampa as it may. One thing seems pretty inevitable as the season winds down: Nikola Jokic has the MVP award locked up.
Favorites have changed a few times over the course of the year, but at this point more than 60 percent of NBA fans nationally think the Denver Nuggets big man is the league’s MVP. IN second: Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul! He’s turned the Suns into a powerhouse this year, so we can’t argue with the thinking here.
While Jokić appears to be the clear MVP, that doesn’t mean he’s considered the best player in the game right now. That title, according to fans, still goes to Lakers superstar LeBron James.
Which is all fine and good, but please don’t suggest we need another award or something to recognize this. Rachel Nichols, I love you, but please let this one go. Awards criteria are nebulous enough! This conversation only makes it 5,000 times more confusing. Also, isn’t that kinda what the Hall of Fame is for?
MVP voting results. As I’ve said on TV 100x, I voted for Giannis, because the award right now is for who had the best stats in the regular season, not for who is the NBA’s best player. Which I have said on TV 1000x is...outdated. Needs to be separate awards for Best Season & MVP pic.twitter.com/K3qpgZYxO5— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) September 18, 2020
Back to Chris Paul for a second, unsurprisingly, fans think Paul on the Suns has been the league’s best new acquisition. Maybe if James Harden had played more he would’ve crept up, but Brooklyn was gonna be great with or without him. Paul, though, has led a significant transformation for the Suns.
As noted earlier, we would love to get some more Raptors-related data to share. To do that, we need you to sign up for NBA Reacts, and to vote! You can do so right here on the sign-up page. Until next time!