For any aspiring basketball player, winning the coveted title of Most Valuable Player in the NBA tournament is perhaps the biggest dream there is. But to win it under 25 years of age is an even more amazing achievement. Here is our top pick of some of the youngest players to ever receive the award, that are still active in the NBA.
Derrick Rose was born and raised in Chicago, so it was only natural that he would go on to play for his native Chicago Bulls. After an impressive basketball career in college for the University of Memphis Tigers, during which he led his team to the most wins in NCAA history, he was drafted first overall during the 2008 NBA draft. Following a promising first season, Rose was named Rookie of the Year and in his third season made NBA history when he became the youngest player ever to receive the MVP accolade. Upon entering his third year with the Chicago Bulls, Rose was perceived as too bold by some, when he publicly wondered during training camp why we could not win the celebrated MVP title.
But, at the end of the season, it was proven that he was not shooting too high. He carried his team all through the 2010-2011 season and led the Bulls to their best record since the departure of the great Michael Jordan, with 62 wins against 20 losses, which placed them at the top of their Eastern Conference. Rose himself proved to be an unstoppable force, with an average of 25 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1. rebounds across 81 games, while he amassed over 2,000 points, 600 assists, and 300 rebounds during that same season, providing some of the most entertaining moments for fans during the games. No wonder that he went on to win the MVP title at just 22 years old, becoming only the second Chicago Bull players after Jordan to win the prize!
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the perfect example of a rags-to-riches story made possible through incredible talent and arduous hard work. Born in Greece to parents who migrated from Nigeria, Giannis grew up working odd jobs to help his family make ends meet. Yet his dream was always to someday play in the NBA and he spent his free time shooting hoops in public basketball courts around his neighbourhood. After chosen by the youth division of a small Greek team, Giannis decided to chase his dream and entered the 2013 NBA draft, where he was 15th pick for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Wisconsin-based team that picked him was not one of the first names in the NBA, but Giannis was determined to change that and soon showed that he meant business. Nicknamed ‘Greek Freak’ thanks to his rare combination of size, body measurements, and skills in handling the ball, Antetokounmpo soon stood out from his teammates.
This season’s likely MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged fewer minutes per game (30.9) than this season’s likely 6th man of the year Dennis Schroder (31.0) pic.twitter.com/tpT73wmD63
— Basketballismyreligion (@bball_religion) April 17, 2020
After spending his first couple of seasons in developing his skills and getting used to the NBA playing style, he emerged as the undeniable frontrunner of the Bucks in the 2016-17 season, when he led them in total points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks, becoming the first player in the history of the NBA to end a regular season placing in the top 20 across all five categories. He was rightfully named the Most Improved Player of 2017, and in 2019 he was finally awarded the title of the MVP. Giannis was only the fifth player not born in the US to receive the prize, and only the second Bucks player after the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be named MVP. At 24 years of age, he was also the third-youngest player across the last 40 seasons. Under his leadership, the Bucks soon climbed in odds across major online betting sites, which proves that the relatively unknown team has been increasingly regarded as a force to be reckoned with during the past couple of years – and it seems that the sky is the limit for the Greek Freak!
No list of MVPs would be complete without a mention to the reigning king of the popular sport. James is considered by many one of the best players to ever grace the courts of the NBA and is often compared to Michael Jordan. James was first selected by his native Cleveland Cavaliers as first overall pick in 2003, and he would go on to write history for his team. In 2010 he transferred to the Miami Heat before returning to Cleveland in 2014. Between his time in the two teams, he played in no less than eight consecutive NBA finals, won three of them, two Olympic gold medals, and was named MVP no less than four times. The first of these was in 2009, when James was just 24 years old.
Past NBA players that have managed to win the MVP title younger than 25 years old include legends like Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain. But it remains to be seen how the new generation of NBA stars will compare!