Regular Season Head-to-Head
While it may not seem like that important of a factor, head-to-head record is very important in the voters’ eyes when deciding the league MVP. When player’s statistics are very close to one another and their team records are very close as well, it is hard to pick between players to vote for, which is why head-to-head could come into play.
This could very much be the case this year since there are so many great players in the league playing at such a high-level. One of the tightest MVP races of the last twenty years came during the 2004-05 season in which Steve Nash narrowly beat Shaquille O’Neal for the award.
In that season, Nash beat O’Neal by 34 total voting points, but O’Neal beat Nash during the regular season in points, rebounds, blocks, shooting percentage and PER. The only difference between Nash and O’Neal that year was the fact that Nash and his Suns swept Shaq’s Lakers 4-0 during the regular season.
Head-to-Head record can be a great tiebreaker for many MVP voters and should once again hold that role of being a tiebreaker this year, especially with how much talent there is battling for this award this year. Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are the two clearcut front-runners at the moment, but they play in opposite conferences, not giving us many opportunities to see them play one another.
However, we do get to see Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo play against each other numerous times this season, as will we see Jokic take on LeBron, Doncic and other MVP candidates in the Western Conference. These matchups could help separate the top Eastern Conference candidate and top Western Conference candidate, making things a little easier in terms of voting at the end of the year.