Statistics from the eight “seeding games” each team will play during the NBA’s restart will count toward player totals for the season, however, the league told teams Friday those stats will not count in the race for any end-of-season awards.
The NBA sent a memo to teams informing them only games through March 11, when the NBA season was shut down, will be considered for the awards, something NBC Sports has confirmed. The story was broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Players statistics in the bubble will count toward statistical awards — scoring leader, rebound leader, etc. – but not toward the awards voted on by select media members. Most of the statistical awards are wrapped up, such as James Harden running away with his third straight scoring title.
This decision was expected around the league. The reasoning is coaches and players of the eight teams not in the bubble should have equal consideration for any awards and this gives them a level playing field. Players such as Trae Young and Karl-Anthony Towns are not in Orlando but have a legitimate shot at making the All-NBA team, for example.
What it means in practice is Zion Williamson will not get extra games to try and chase down Ja Morant in the Rookie of the Year race (Williamson left the NBA bubble to attend to an urgent family matter, but he is expected to return and play in seeding games). Also, LeBron James can’t make a late push to pass Giannis Antetokounmpo in the MVP race.
Other awards voted on by the media (in addition to MVP and ROY) are Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, All-Rookie Team, All-Defensive Team, and All-NBA.
The league is expected to soon send ballots to media members and say how the awards will be announced (there will be no big end-of-season awards banquet this year, for obvious reasons).