The Student Newspaper of Paint Branch High School


The Student Newspaper of Paint Branch High School


The Student Newspaper of Paint Branch High School


Smacktalk Backtalk: My NBA MVP Ballot


With the NBA season coming to an end the most prestigious individual award – the NBA MVP – has been announced. With the new Player Participation Policy in effect, some fans may consider the winner, Nikola Jokic, to have an asterisk by his name since players like Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, and reigning MVP Joel Embiid were not eligible for any awards this year, most notably MVP.

With those other players out of the discussion, my choice for MVP is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder. SGA averaged 30 points 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game and averaged 2 steals a game on the other side of the ball. What put him above the other candidates was leading the Thunder from 10th spot in the west last year to the 1st seed this year. Not only are they the 1 seed, they are the youngest by average age top seed in league history.

Second place on my ballot would go to Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks who led the league in scoring with 33.9 points per game. What’s even more impressive about that is he also averaged 9.8 assists and 9.2 rebounds to go along with the crazy scoring. Doncic led the Mavericks to the 5 seed with a 50-32 record which is a big improvement from last year when they were the 11 seed with a 38-44 record.

Third place on my ballot is Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Jokic is no stranger to being in this conversation as he has been top 10 in MVP voting for 6 straight years. He led the Nuggets to the 2 seed with 57 wins by averaging 26.4 points with 12.6 rebounds and 9 assists. While these are great numbers, I feel that the other two candidates deserved it more.



The future of the NBA is bright with many young and talented players in the game today. Now that the playoffs are in full swing and the finals just weeks away, it is time to pick who I think should have been this season’s MVP.

I’ll get straight to it: Dallas forward Luka Doncic is my pick as MVP. Luka had a season for the ages, one that saw him move into third place all-time for average scoring at just over 28 points per game. This places him just behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. By averaging 33.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game this year, Luka dominated. The league’s leading scorer helped the Mavericks improve their playoff position from 8th to 5th and they took out the Clippers in round one.

Having already won back-to-back MVPs in 2020-21 and 2021-22, Denver’s Nikola Jokic was once again a front runner for the award and while the league picked him this year, he is my runner up. Joker put up monster numbers with 26 ppg, 12 assists, and 9 boards. Using his ability to come into the paint and make his dominant presence known with a pass-first playing style, Jokic is able to space the floor and create opportunities for his teammates because he always makes the right reads. With his team finishing second in the Western Conference, Jokic finishes just behind Doncic on my ballot.

Mr. Consistent, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Western Conference number one seed Oklahoma City Thunder, is my number three player for MVP. SGA is on my ballot due to his consistent 30 points a night and his ability to get to his spots and knock down clutch baskets, which led to him having six 40+ games this season. This is SGA’s first time in the MVP conversation and many, like Ryan, think he should have won for bringing his young Thunder team to the playoffs for the first time since the 2019-2020 season.

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About the Contributors
Ryan Bobb, Sports Editor
Everyone has their ambitions and aspirations but are they willing to do the work for it? For Paint Branch tenth-grader Ryan Bobb, hard work is no obstacle. One of the big goals for Ryan this year is once again making the PB basketball team and averaging at least 15 points per game, Basketball is a sport that he has treasured deeply since starting to play the game at the age of 5 years old. In fact, for Ryan, basketball is one of his motivations for waking up in the morning.  In addition to basketball, Ryan is inspired by his family and plans to get good grades and achieve his goals. One of those goals is to build healthy relationships throughout his sophomore year.  When it comes to his future, Ryan’s aspiration is to make the NBA and play alongside the best of the best. If he were to achieve this well-respected goal, he wishes to play for his hometown team, the Washington Wizards where his long time idol John Wall played. Speaking of John Wall, for most people, meeting their idol is just a dream, a thing they fantasize about but never achieve. However, that is not the case for Ryan who entered and won a contest to be a Monumental Sports Wizards junior reporter, which he entered by creating a video with his father. Winning this contest led to Ryan having a chance to meet his idol, John Wall. In fact, he not only met him, he had the chance to interview him.  In fact, this experience is in part why he took journalism and continues into his second year with the program. It helped shape Ryan into a person who sees it as maybe something he can do in the future.
Xavier Chang, Staff Writer
When someone asks you what your favorite color is you usually just answer it with that favorite shade. But have you ever thought about why it is your favorite color? PB sophomore Xavier Chang offers an interesting response for his favorite color, purple, calling it “the color of royalty.” Beginning his second year of high school, Xavier is thrilled for the year considering how great his freshman year was. He’s excited to get good grades and get outdoors while preparing for basketball and lacrosse seasons which are quickly approaching. Speaking of seasons, Xavier’s favorite is winter as he prefers wearing hoodies, and his least favorite is summer even though that is his best time to travel. Kyoto, Japan, Cancun, Mexico, and North Carolina are some of his most treasured vacation spots. Xavier adds, “If I could go anywhere else, I’d definitely dream of going to Dubai.”  When he isn’t traveling or playing sports, he's often found cooking or reading stories. He enjoys making dumplings and does it with ease, which is great because of how difficult they can be to cook. When it comes to reading, Xavier spends a lot of time reading manga and graphic novels, with his favorite being Amulet. His love for literature will be especially helpful for future studies since he dreams of becoming a lawyer, which is a big career in the humanities field and requires strong reading and writing skills.  Xavier is also very excited for the social part of this school year since he considers himself a friendly person. He believes that he is both an introvert and extrovert, something that is called an ambivert. He notes that he can make friends quite easily. The first thing he looks for in a friend is compatibility. He adds “I like having similar interests so we can relate more to each other.” He enjoys relating to others as it allows for ease of conversation and better flow.  When asked to describe himself in two words, Xavier quickly responds with “passionate and ambitious” which are fascinating traits. He takes his future very seriously, and is willing to work hard in everything he does, all while having fun and making the most of his high school experience. His great enthusiasm, mindset, and strive for greatness will help him navigate through high school and ensure a successful future!  By: Sumer Elsalawi  

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