But nobody is more confident about winning the award than Nets guard D'Angelo Russell.
Russell, via Anthony Pucci of SNY:
“I’m gonna win that s–t. Watch. Put it on record. I’m gonna win it.”
“I’m telling you, I’m winning it!”
Russell has definitely improved a lot. He has taken large role leading the surprisingly solid Nets. His shooting and playmaking are more reliable than ever. He even became a first-time All-Star this season (though as an injury replacement).
Fox’s win shares (4.0, from 1.3) and box plus-minus (+2.8, from -0.4) are up significantly this season from previous career highs.
But he’s not the only one.
Fox, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Thomas Bryant have made bigger increases in win shares. Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Nikola Vucevic, Beasley, Zach Collins and Noah Vonleh have made bigger increases in box plus-minus.
Russell will likely get MIP votes. His campaigning will help, as will his All-Star appearance.
He should get more credit for rising from average-ish into near-stardom than another player who makes a similar jump from poor to average. Taking the same number of steps gets more difficult the higher a player climbs.
But Russell isn’t on track to make my theoretical three-player MIP ballot, let alone win the award. I doubt enough actual voters will see him as worthy, either.