Grading the Week: If NBA MVP race is Nikola Jokic vs. Steph Curry, we all know who it’s “gotta be” – The Denver Post

Much like anything else decided by voting, the NBA MVP award comes with a fair amount of politicking.

And Stephen Curry, a two-time MVP with the Golden State Warriors, showed us this week he isn’t entirely above such things — even if he isn’t quite as shameless as, say, the King down in SoCal.

Nikola vs. Steph — A+

The question came near the tail end of an hour-long appearance on Rex Chapman’s podcast on Wednesday, when Chapman asked Curry: “Are you the MVP this year?”

“I mean, I gotta be,” the seven-time all-star responded with a shrug. “I probably won’t get it, but whatever.”

Much like Curry’s incredible 3-point shooting, one out of two ain’t bad.

For as great at the flame-throwing Warrior has been since returning from injury March 29 — and we’re talking 38.2 points per game, including five games over 40 points, on 46.8% shooting from 3 prior to Friday night — there’s no way he’s getting the award over Nikola Jokic.

The Nuggets superstar was the clear leader in a straw poll of MVP voters conducted by ESPN last week — and with good reason.

Not only is Jokic the league leader in several advanced statistics (win shares, player efficiency rating and value over replacement player, just to name a few), he hasn’t missed a game all season (Steph has missed eight) and he pilots a team that was 9 1/2 games ahead of Steph’s Warriors in the Western Conference standings entering Friday night’s game in San Francisco.

The Joker also averages more rebounds (11.0 vs. 5.5), assists (8.7 vs. 5.9), steals (1.4 vs. 1.2) and blocks (0.7 vs. 0.1) per game than Curry — not to mention fewer turnovers (3.1 vs. 3.3).

If that isn’t enough, there’s also this: As great of a shooter as Steph has been — and to be clear, he’s been spectacular averaging an NBA-best 31.1 points — he isn’t even all that far ahead of Jokic.

Curry’s shooting splits: 48.6% from the field, 42.5% on 3s and 92.2% on free throws for an effective field goal percentage of 60.9.

Jokic’s shooting splits: 56.8/41.1/85.4 for an effective field goal percentage of 60.6.

Yeah, we’d say it’s pretty clear who’s “gotta be” the MVP.

International Olympic Committee — F

The spirit of Avery Brundage is alive and well within the International Olympic Committee.

This week, the body followed the ideals of its long-since-passed former president when it decided it would continue to punish any and all athlete protests at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

The reasoning, as stated by IOC Athletes’ Commission head Kirsty Coventry: A majority of athletes polled said they were against protests in stadiums and at the podium.

It’s the continuation of an idea that has been around for decades: The Olympics are a celebration of athletic competition in which politics have no place.

This has always struck the Grading the Week staff as silly. The way we see it, any event that includes flag waving, national anthems and scores of foreign dignitaries is inherently political — regardless of intent.

Adolph Hitler certainly saw it as such when his country hosted the 1936 Berlin Games, then watched as Black sprinter Jesse Owens took a sledge hammer to the Furor’s insidious propaganda by winning four gold medals.

Brundage, an American, successfully lobbied against the U.S. boycotting those games — a decision seemingly vindicated by Owens’ historic rebuke of Nazi doctrine. He also raised no objection to Nazi salutes performed by German athletes.

Yet a few decades later, it was Brundage who insisted Tommie Smith and John Carlos be banished from the Games after the two raised gloved fists atop the podium during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1968 at Mexico City.

We give that an “A” for hypocrisy.

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