Winning the Most Valuable Player award is one of the toughest tasks any NBA player could ever achieve, as it means you didn’t just lead your team but that also you outplayed the rest of the league, on a competition featuring the best players in the world.
However, it seems like some positions are valued more than others. Or at least, it has been that way since the dawn of basketball. While some players are more skilled, others tend to get more recognition or credit for their contributions.
Still, like everything in the world – and especially basketball – trends continue to change as the game evolves. So, we’re going to put this into context by letting you know about every single MVP there’s been according to their position:
PG Position – 11
The point guard is the extension of the coach on the court. He’s the guy responsible for anchoring their backcourt defense and leading the way by making everybody around him better. That’s why it strikes us as a bit of a surprise to see just 7 point guards ever winning the award.
I can’t think of a successful team without a great point guard leading the way. You just can’t compete in modern basketball without a top-tier playmaker pulling the strings of the offense. Notably, just two point guards won the award from 1955 to 1987.
List: Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson (x3), Steve Nash (x2), Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry (x2), Russell Westbrook
SG Position – 8
The shooting guard position has seen some of the greatest players to ever live. As a matter of fact, some may argue that the two best players to ever lace them up, have played at the two. Ironically, that’s the position with the least amount of MVP awards to its name.
In fact, if it wasn’t for Michael Jordan and his 5 MVPs, there would have been just three shooting guards in NBA history to win this achievement and none of them have done it more than once. James Harden has the chance to put an end to that situation.
List: Michael Jordan (x5), Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, James Harden
SF Position – 10
Small forwards have been the most determinant players in the league for a very long time. They’ve led All-Star voting and have been deemed the best players in the world since the dawn of basketball, yet they’ve only won 10 combined MVP awards.
More impressively, Larry Bird and LeBron James have 7 of those 10 awards, meaning no other small forward in the history of basketball has won more than one MVP thus far. Notably, Giannis Antetokounmpo is reportedly on pace to join that list of multiple MVP winners.
List: Julius Erving, Larry Bird (x3), LeBron James (4), Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF Position – 10
The power forward position has often been overlooked and underestimated in the NBA. Most of the time, PFs are nothing but role players. Just a handful of them actually stands out because of their offense, while most of them are second or third scoring options.
Even so, there has been some legendary power forwards in the history of the game, with seven of them being named the league’s Most Valuable Player. Thus far, only Bob Pettit, Karl Malone, and Tim Duncan have won the award more than once.
List: Bob Pettit (x2), Bob McAdoo, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone (x2), Tim Duncan (x2), Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki
C Position – 25
The center position was clearly the most valued during the early days of the league. In fact, 22 out of the first 28 MVP winners were big men. Notably, if you put together Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell’s MVP, they’d have the same or more than the rest of the positions.
Big men were the most valuable players in the early days of basketball. Now that the league is more oriented towards the perimeter and favors shooting, the trend has changed drastically. No center has won the award since Shaq did it in 1999-00.
List: Bill Russell (x5), Wilt Chamberlain (x4), Wes Unseld, Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (x6), Dave Cowens, Bill Walton, Moses Malone (x3), Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal