Kendrick Perkins Says Jimmy Butler ‘Has to Be’ in MVP Conversation'
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The NBA’s leading MVP candidates are Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic and James Harden.

Now, former NBA player Kendrick Perkins wants to add Jimmy Butler’s name to that list.

During a segment on ESPN’s “The Jump,” host Rachel Nichols and guests Paul Pierce and Perkins were discussing the possibility that the Miami Heat may be the best team not playing on Christmas Day.

That’s when Perkins brought to the table the idea that Butler may be getting overlooked in the MVP conversation because his season averages aren’t as gaudy compared to those of the others on the list.

“I know Jimmy’s numbers are not Giannis’ or LeBron’s, but we have to put him in this MVP conversation,” said Perkins. “He has to be in this MVP conversation because he’s setting the tone for this team.

“This team is following his lead. This guy is showing up at six in the morning, he’s coming in. He’s hitting clutch shots. He’s been big in the fourth quarter. Just look at that comeback that he had against the [Atlanta] Hawks. We have to put Jimmy Butler in the conversation.”

Based on the responses from Nichols and Pierce, it appears as though they agree with Perkins about Butler as someone who should be taken seriously in MVP discussions.

To Perkins’ point, Butler’s numbers don’t scream MVP at a glance. He is averaging 20.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game.

Though his scoring isn’t as impressive next to the league’s most celebrated players, his rebound and assists numbers are career-highs while his steals average is the second highest in his career.

The 2019-20 season is still early and there’s a chance for Butler to put up even better numbers down the road. Perhaps that is all it will take for others to take notice of his incredible value in Miami.

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Omar is a freelance writer who has followed the NBA for more than 30 years. Prior to the Internet, he devoured every reading material he could find on the game from newspaper articles to books and magazines. He became a Heat fan the moment they acquired Tim Hardaway and his killer crossover, and lamented not seeing him and Alonzo Mourning win a championship. Seeing Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh play in Miami was a surreal moment for him and more so after they validated the Decision with back-to-back championships. He is ecstatic to cover Miami basketball for Heat Nation.