Home News Knicks HC Tom Thibodeau on NBA end-of-season awards: I’d prefer to wait...

Knicks HC Tom Thibodeau on NBA end-of-season awards: I’d prefer to wait till everything was done’

Knicks star Jalen Brunson will have to wait till next year to hopefully end up a finalist — or winner — for the NBA MVP award. Nuggets superstar big Nikola Jokic earned his third MVP award Wednesday. The votes for the prestigious hardware, including the 79 first-place votes Jokic received, are taken before the regular season and any spectacular performances after Game 82 don’t count.

That means all of Brunson’s incredible performances — like his record-setting four consecutive 40-point games — that could’ve swayed voters cant even be considered.

The star’s head coach thinks that maybe the voting should begin after the postseason concludes.

“I think there’s a time element to it. Is it MVP for the entire season, is it MVP for the regular season, but there’s a number of deserving candidates and certainly we feel Jalen is deserving as well,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said before Wednesday’s Game 2. “So those things are tough and just like the All-Star selection, you hate to leave anyone off that’s deserving. That’s the reality of it.

“So I’d prefer to wait till everything was done so you can look at everything.”

Brunson, a first-time All-Star this season, finished fifth for the award behind Jokic, Oklahoma City’s Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, respectively. The Knicks guard averaged 28.7 points, 6.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds while carrying the injury-riddled Knicks to the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

If voting took place after the postseason, Brunson’s first and second-round performance could’ve bolstered his case to at least finish as a finalist. The same could be said, however, for Gilgeous-Alexander and Doncic, who are both leading their squads in the second round of the postseason.


Miami Heat president Pat Riley told reporters Monday that the NBA’s current 65-game requirement for end-of-season awards “sends a message that it’s OK to sit when you’re not 100 percent when no one in this league is 100 percent.”

Players who miss more than 17 games can’t be considered for any end-of-season awards. Thibodeau gave his opinion on the current rule.

“I think they’re trying to figure it out,” the head coach said about the NBA decision-makers. “We all want to see everyone play as many games as possible. I think the competition part of it is important.

“You want to look at it from the other side as well. You want to make good decisions. Protecting the players is important. I think looking at it in totality and figuring out ‘OK what’s best for the game.’ I think we have to prioritize that too. There’s a lot at stake for everybody.”


Thibodeau repeatedly emphasized that his star guard wasn’t getting enough free throws despite taking a beating during games. In the previous two postseason games entering Wednesday, Brunson shot 16 attempts in Game 6 of the first round and 14 in the Game 1 victory over the Pacers. Those are the most attempts from the charity stripe he’s taken this postseason.

He shot 12 and 11 in Games 3 and 4 against Philadelphia, respectively. Other than that, he hadn’t shot more than nine attempts from the line.

“I dont think so,” Thibodeau said when asked if Brunson is now being officiated differently. “When you look at the drives too, I think there’s a reflection and and he’s going to the basket quote a bit. So I think that’s more a byproduct of that. He’s very shifty. He puts the defense at a disadvantage. And he’s getting fouled. If he gets fouled it has to be called.


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