Context matters in an MVP discussion, especially when the conversation can be wide-ranging and littered with hot takes. What happened and how it happened are obviously important, but why the outcome became what it was certainly adds credence to the winner.
After weeks of speculation and some intense online debates, Scottie Thompson emerged as the MVP for PBA Season 46.
It was quite the crowning achievement for Thompson, who was named the Best Player of the Conference and the Finals MVP of the 2021 Honda PBA Governors’ Cup after leading the sixth-seeded Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings to the Governors’ Cup title. Winning virtually every award he could as a local for the Governors’ Cup pretty much put him ahead of the likes of Mikey Williams, Robert Bolick, and Calvin Abueva.
Thompson’s being adjudged MVP officially ends June Mar Fajardo’s reign as the record six-time PBA MVP and also comes a decade after Mark Caguioa, who was the last member of the Gin Kings who won the award.
Numbers do matter and the voting breakdown showed that while Thompson seemingly had the worst numbers when compared with his fellow candidates, he nevertheless garnered a sizable share of the votes from fellow players, the media, and the league office meant (fairly or unfairly depending on which side you’re on) that it was beyond what was on paper.
Thompson has taken on a larger role that has become more consistent with it as well. His rebounding has somewhat offset Ginebra’s losses and at times lack of production in the frontcourt. He certainly won’t provide rim protection, but stops begin and end when possession of the ball is secured and the 28-year old has certainly been adept at that. That Thompson did it even when imports were present shows he has no fear even when he gives up heft and height.
It’s true that rebounding has helped make Thompson a household name, but the four-time PBA All-Star has emerged as a big shot maker, something that endeared him to the Gin Kings, who selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 PBA Draft.
As the years went on, the former University of Perpetual Help Atlas had to take on more responsibilities as age and injuries hounded Barangay Ginebra’s backcourt. More opportunities meant more shots and even as Thompson was named Finals MVP of the 2018 Honda PBA Commissioner’s Cup, his patience and efforts came to fruition in 2021.
Gone are the days when Thompson was a young upstart, and though the six-time PBA champion is still young in terms of age, he’s become a hardened veteran who can take over with his abilities. It wasn’t long ago that he looked to his Kuya’s on what to do next and where to be, but now it’s him creating for his teammates.
There’s still room to improve for Thompson production-wise, and that will likely come especially as Ginebran looks to reload and build on their recent success. Avoiding the injury bug will certainly help and while head coach Tim Cone and the rest of the Gin Kings coaching staff will try to preach caution to some extent, they wouldn’t want to curtail the aggressiveness that has led to success.
Will Thompson repeat as MVP? At this point, anything is possible and it begins with consistent production across the Philippine Cup, Commissioner’s Cup, and Governors’ Cup for the 2022-2023 Season. While Williams’ contract situation remains uncertain, Fajardo continues to recover and regain his form prior to fracturing his right tibia and Bolick will only continue to be the engine that keeps the NorthPort Batang Pier humming. It is also not out of the realm of possibility that another player enters the MVP conversation for PBA Season 47.
Stats and success matter, especially when taken into context in a given season. Scottie Thompson became the PBA MVP for Season 46 on that basis and perhaps rightly so. Barangay Ginebra has reaped the benefits of what led to Thompson’s MVP campaign and who’s to say there won’t be more to come?