Before the play-in tournament, the NBA is set to announce special honours for the top performers in the seeding games during the season restart.
As the seeding games were not taken into account for the annual awards, the league decided to highlight the top performers from these games by announcing the Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games and the Kia NBA All-Seeding Games Team (First and Second).
Who deserves those honours? Here's what our NBA Global Staff thinks.
MVP: Damian Lillard
Lillard averaging 37.6 points per game gives him enough reason to be up for MVP, but there are two other factors that put him over the edge. First, how his high-scoring performances helped Portland win five of its first seven games, ranking them eighth in the Western Conference. Second, how he responded in must-win games for the Blazers, scoring 51 points and 61 points in two decisive games against Philadelphia and Dallas, respectively.
💸 @Dame_Lillard's last two games:- NBA (@NBA) August 12, 2020
▪️ 51 & 61 points
▪️ Most PTS in 2-game span in @trailblazers history
▪️ Only Trail Blazer w/ back-to-back 50-point games pic.twitter.com/nYExS2t41H
First Team: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis
Winning MVP makes Lillard a lock and there are no doubts regarding Booker, who was my other finalist when it came to MVP. Warren led all forwards in scoring (31.0 points) and more importantly, he did so with incredible efficiency, shooting 57.8 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from 3-point range.
Giannis was Giannis, averaging 27.8 points and 12.2 rebounds in just 25.7 minutes while shooting 62.6 percent from the field. The last spot? I side with Porzingis, who posted a ridiculous 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Second Team: Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Joel Embiid
- Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90)
MVP: Damian Lillard and Devin Booker
Look, only one of them can win MVP, but it only feels right to give it to both Lillard and Booker. In terms of numbers, their cases are similar: Lillard averaged 37.6 points, 9.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 41.7 minutes per game while Booker averaged 30.5 points, 6.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 0.5 steals in 33.8 minutes.
Numbers aside, their cases are even more similar. With their seasons on the line, both stepped up when they were needed the most - Lillard with his huge performances against the 76ers and Mavericks, Booker with the game-winner against the Clippers - putting their teams in contention for the play-in tournament.
🚨☀️ D-BOOK WINS IT 🚨☀️- NBA (@NBA) August 4, 2020
Devin Booker pumps, spins, rises up and BURIES the #TissotBuzzerBeater to lift the @Suns to 3-0 in Orlando!#ThisIsYourTime #RisePHX #WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/iKsqbAeMWv
Lillard's case might seem stronger, but how many were waiting for Dame Time to arrive in Disney? Many. And how many expected Booker to lead the Suns to an undefeated record? Very few, to say the least.
Make it a tie and everyone will be happy.
First Team: Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Kristaps Porzingis.
Lillard and Booker for obvious reasons. The same goes for Doncic and Warren. Luka was incredible, nearly averaging a triple-double with 30.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists. Warren was perhaps the best player in the league in the first half of the seeding games with that scorching hot start.
T.J. Warren's 9TH 👌 gives him a career-high 53 POINTS and lifts the @Pacers to victory! #WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/Pe5q4DTg1Z- NBA (@NBA) August 2, 2020
You have to give the team some positional respect. I went with Porzingis for the last spot, although it hurts not having DeRozan on the First Team.
Second Team: James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, Michael Porter Jr., Jusuf Nurkic.
- Leandro Fernández (@FernandezLea)
MVP: Damian Lillard
Warren looked like Michael Jordan in the first few games, Booker maintained a sensational level night after night and Doncic delivered standout performances in several games, but all of them were a slight notch below Lillard. He came up short against the Clippers, but Lillard followed that up with his best basketball at Disney.
First Team: Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Kristaps Porzingis
Antetokounmpo or Harden have a case for the First Team, but they both played with a lesser sense of urgency. Lillard, Doncic, Booker and Warren don't need much explanation, and Porzingis has been the best centre so far in Orlando. It's scary to think that he can get even better.
Second Team: Chris Paul, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Michael Porter Jr., Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Nacho Losilla (@Losilla_)
MVP: Damian Lillard
In the eight seeding games, nobody was as good as Lillard. The determination he showed and his relentlessness to get the Blazers in the play-in tournament make him worthy of MVP.
First Team: Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Giannis Antetokounmpo
The season restart was a perfect opportunity for younger stars to assert themselves. Booker and Doncic did just that, carrying the weight on their shoulders, while Lillard went to a level few have ever gone before and Antetokounmpo did what he does. On the other hand, Warren's unexpected play makes him a worthy First Team selection.
Second Team: James Harden, Gary Trent Jr., DeMar DeRozan, Ivica Zubac, Jusuf Nurkic
- Sergio Rabinal (@S_Rabinal)
MVP: Damian Lillard
My heart says Devin Booker, but my mind says Lillard. While Booker helped the Suns do the impossible - go a perfect 8-0 for an opportunity to make the play-in tournament - Lillard posted video game numbers to put the Blazers in the driver's seat. I mean, Lillard responded to missing two clutch free throws against the Clippers by scoring 112 points over two games, both of which resulted in wins. Absurd.
First Team: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, James Harden, TJ Warren
Lillard and Booker are locks, as are Doncic and Warren. Harden might not come to mind first, but that just shows how we take him for granted.
Make that 43PTS for @JHarden13 7/13 3PT shooting. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/EBgxxI8aXN- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) August 12, 2020
The Second Team was harder to put together. Ultimately, I have a ton of respect for what DeRozan was able to do with the Spurs and Porter Jr. has been one of the bubble's breakout stars. Antetokounmpo, Porzingis and Embiid, meanwhile, put up video game-like numbers themselves, albeit not at quite the same level as Lillard.
Second Team: DeMar DeRozan, Michael Porter Jr., Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis, Joel Embiid
- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)
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