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New CBA reportedly may feature games played minimum to qualify for MVP, other awards

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets - Game Three

DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets accepts the 2021 NBA MVP award before Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

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To qualify as the league’s per-game scoring leader, a player must play in at least 58 games. However, to be eligible for any NBA postseason award — MVP, Rookie of the Year, All-NBA, etc. — there is no minimum number, it’s left up to the individual voter to decide.

That likely will change in the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement with the hope of getting star players to play more games, reports Shams Charania at The Athletic.

Top league and players union officials held a Competition Committee meeting on Friday to discuss an issue both sides are jointly motivated on: star players playing in more games, and staying healthy enough so that the NBA can display its best talent on a night-to-night basis. Both sides are in agreement on tying major awards to games played over the course of the season, sources said.

The two sides are trying to agree on a number, according to the report.

What would a games played minimum change? Not much.

First, as Chris Paul and CJ McCollum pointed out in the negotiations Friday (as Charania reported), the team and their medical staff — driven by analytics and monitoring — often sit players. While fans tend to lay “load management” at the feet of the player (and there are some players with their own medical teams who make that call), more of it is driven by teams than not. The ultimate aim is to keep players healthy, especially for the playoffs, but that has had mixed results.

Second, voters already games played into account. In 2021, Nikola Jokić beat out Joel Embiid for MVP partly because he played in 72 games to Embiid’s 51 (only playing 31 games another season cost Embiid Rookie of the Year). How much different voters weigh games played varies, but it already is a factor and a player who gets on the court for fewer than 60 games has a much tougher time winning any postseason award than someone who plays more than that.

But any step toward getting the NBA’s best players on the court more is a good thing.