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Stephen A. Smith Reveals His Pick for the 2024 NBA MVP Award

Feb 16, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Team Stephen A coach Stephen A. Smith looks on against Team Shannon during the All Star Celebrity Game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In what is one of the closest NBA MVP races in recent memory, there are several deserving candidates to bring home the award in 2024. Currently, the betting odds favor Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (-150) to win the award for the third time in his career. Right below him is Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+225). On today’s episode of First Take, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith chose Gilgeous-Alexander as his MVP for the 2023-2024 NBA season.

This season has been a breakout campaign for Gilgeous-Alexander. In large part thanks to his impressive play, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 52-22 and own sole position of the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Furthermore, the team recently clinched their first playoff appearance since the 2019-2020 season. This season, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 30.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and a league-leading 2.1 steals per game.

Stephen A. Smith Reveals His Pick for the 2024 NBA MVP Award

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s MVP Campaign

Smith is not the only sports personality who believes the Canadian native should win the MVP award this year. Last month, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said his MVP is Gilgeous-Alexander:

“SGA is my MVP right now. He fits both our criteria. He’s the baddest m-f-, shut-your-mouth in the league and his team is winning,” O’Neal said. “… He’s definitely my MVP.”

O’Neal’s main points are exactly why many think Gilgeous-Alexander is this year’s NBA MVP. On top of having a very successful individual season statistically, his team is a serious championship contender. The Thunder have a very solid team around Gilgeous-Alexander. However, it’s fair to assume they are not as big of a threat as they are without him on the roster.

Furthermore, former NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas has publicly campaigned for Gilgeous-Alexander to win the honor this season:

“This is the MVP, Shai is the MVP this year,” Arenas said on his podcast. “There’s not a veteran on that team that has any experience of winning. This is him, pushing his 22, 23, 24-year old team. He has them in a position to be the number one, two, three seed.

Additionally, in a recent interview, Gilgeous-Alexander himself spoke about being in the MVP race:

“It’s a surreal feeling,” the Oklahoma City Thunder guard told Bleacher Report when discussing being in the MVP race. “You dream about it as a kid. I certainly have, wanting to be in the NBA my whole life. It’s something that I try not to put too much thought or emphasis on and let the chips fall where they may, but it’s something that I definitely want. If I achieve it and am blessed enough to get the award, I’ll be very happy.”

It’s clear the Kentucky alum has his eyes set on a bigger prize. However, it seems that winning the MVP award would mean a lot to the 25-year-old.

The Last Word on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

There are lots of legitimate MVP candidates this season. That said, the combination of Gilgeous-Alexander’s individual and team success cannot be overlooked. With just a couple of weeks before the end of the season, it will be interesting to see if Gilgeous-Alexander can make a late-season push for his MVP candidacy.

 

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