The answer to when the NBA MVP is decided may surprise you. It’s not always the player with the best stats.
The regular season
The NBA MVP is decided based on regular season performance. Players are evaluated based on their statistical contributions and impact on their team’s success. The award is usually presented at the end of the regular season.
MVP is usually a player from a winning team
While it is not a requirement, the vast majority of MVPs have been players on winning teams. In fact, since the NBA began handing out the award in 1955, only six MVPs have come from teams with losing records. Three of those six were superstars on bad teams during the tail end of their careers (Moses Malone in 1981, Karl Malone in 1997 and Allen Iverson in 2001) and the other three were young players on terrible expansion franchises (Wilt Chamberlain in 1960, Oscar Robertson in 1964 and Bob Lanier in 1974). In other words, it’s extremely rare for an MVP to come from a losing team.
The playoffs are when the MVP is decided. The player with the best stats during the playoffs is usually the one who wins the MVP award.
MVP is usually the best player on the winning team
The NBA playoffs are a best-of-seven elimination tournament held after the conclusion of the regular season to determine the league’s champion. Eight teams from each of the league’s two conferences enter the playoffs, with the four division winners receiving a first-round bye.
The conference semifinals are best-of-seven series between the 512 teams that qualified for the playoffs; all rounds are played under a standard home-away format, meaning that one team hosts Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 while the other team hosts Games 3, 4 and 6. The Conference Finals are best-of-seven series between the two remaining teams in each conference, with a format identical to that of the semifinals. The NBA Finals is also a best-of-seven series between the two remaining playoff teams; it is played under a 2–2–1–1–1 format (meaning that Game 1 and 2 are played at one team’s home court, Games 3 and 4 at another team’s home court, and Games 5–7 on a neutral site if necessary).
In all rounds except for the NBA Finals, if a team loses four games before winning three it is eliminated from further play. In addition, because each playoff series is required to have a winner, if one team wins three games and then loses four games (thus leading to a 3–4 record), it will not matter whether they won or lost Game 7—the other team will advance to the next round automatically. Consequently, in order for a team to win an NBA playoff series they must win four games before losing three (a 4–3 victory).
The NBA MVP is decided based on a number of statistics. These include points scored, assists, steals, blocks, and rebounds. In addition, the player’s team’s record is also taken into account.
In addition to team success, voters will also consider an MVP’s individual stats. This can often be the most important factor in the decision. A player who averages 30 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists per game is going to have a very strong MVP case, even if his team is not one of the best in the league.
Other factors such as the player’s popularity, the success of his team, and whether he is considered a “good guy” by the media are also considered when voting for MVP.
The MVP is usually decided long before the end of the season. In most cases, the media coverage leading up to the end of the season builds up a strong case for one or two players, and the eventual winner is a foregone conclusion by the time the votes are actually cast. This was the case with LeBron James in 2012-13 and 2013-14, when he won back-to-back MVPs. In both seasons, James was far and away the best player in the league, and his individual numbers were staggering. The award was essentially a formality by the time it was announced.