Early PLL MVP predictions
Plenty of deserving players in the running for the PLL MVP award. But who are the favorites and what will it take for them to bring home the award?
The potential award winner is lurking in Week 9 and 10.
At the start of the summer, the PLL revealed its end-of-the-year awards for the inaugural season including a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award named after legendary NFL running back and Syracuse lacrosse legend Jim Brown. The award will be announced on September 21 during the PLL Championship in Philadelphia, but deciding who will be the recipient of this award has routinely drawn plenty of attention and debate throughout the year — especially towards the close of the regular season.
For the NBA this year, it was the Milwaukee Bucks’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the NFL, it was the Chiefs’ dynamic quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In the NHL, the Hart Memorial Trophy went to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s deadly Nikita Kucherov.
As for the PLL? That is the golden question.
With just two weeks left in the first-ever season of the PLL, it’s now an all-out battle to snag one of the four coveted spots to get into the playoff picture. With that being said, what is more valuable than a player who can give his team a chance at a championship? However, there’s only a handful of guys who check all the boxes on paper.
Most Deserving MVP Candidates
1. Matt Rambo
Why He Deserves It: Matt Rambo uses his large frame, yet deceptive footwork to get by defenders and attack from X just like his days at the University of Maryland. The Whipsnakes began the season 4-0 and immediately became the bandwagon to hop on, with Rambo making his case as the best attackman by notching five points twice in the first three games, and tallying four against Atlas during Week 4 at Homewood Field in what was one of the best games of the year.
How He Could Win It: Matt Rambo could win the award if he returns to action with an average of four to five points per game and plays lights out lacrosse to help the Whips secure the #2 seed, if not the #1 seed with the right score differential. If he looks like he has most of the season, he may very well lead the Whipsnakes on a playoff run and finish with both an MVP award and championship trophy in hand.
2. Marcus Holman
Why He Deserves It: Marcus Holman showcased his accuracy in the All-Star Skills Competition winning the most accurate shot challenge and has been firing missiles past goalkeepers all season long. With the help of his bunkbed brother Will Manny and stud midfielder Tom Schreiber, Holman has been essential to the Archer’s #3 rank heading into Week 9.
How He Could Win It: Marcus Holman will need to be outstanding. Any one loss (or two) throws a big wrench into the mix for their seeding, given their +4 differential that could be taken advantage of by two solid Redwoods wins, or a two-game surge by the Chrome. If Holman produces and the Archers maintain their third-place status, he too may be able to make his case for the Jim Brown award.
3. Connor Fields
Why He Deserves It: Connor Fields has been a walking highlight reel all summer long — just recently putting Garret Epple on skates, forcing him to trip on the netting of the goal, only to then shoot a jumping, one-handed, pipe-and-in goal on Tim Troutner. Doing much of the initiating from the attack position, Fields has handled the losses of Josh Byrne and Miles Thompson like a true professional, making due and leading the Chaos to a #1 seed at 6-2.
How He Could Win It: The Chaos are 6-2 for a reason. Their offense has been stellar all season, and even after losing Josh Byrne for the last two weeks and Miles Thompson for three, Fields was able to still assert himself and man the offense. If the Great Dane can bury the comments about his turnovers and take care of the ball, while putting some numbers up to close out the year 8-2 or 7-3 — he could be the guy they point to when asking how the Chaos was able to finish so strong.
4. Jules Heningburg
Why He Deserves It: Jules Heningburg was involved in the first-ever trade within the PLL (a shocking one at that) leaving the Whipsnakes after Week 3 to head to the Redwoods clubhouse. Since starting out 1-2, the Woods are 3-2 and have dealt with a serious issue at the faceoff X, leaving them the short end of the stick in the possession battle. His height and lightning-quick split dodge allow him to get angles on goalies beyond GLE, get physical with defenders and pull quick maneuvers to get shots off. Another dangerous man from behind the cage, Heningburg has proven his worth since joining the Redwoods by racking up 20 goals, on 42% shooting nonetheless, and dishing out eight assists in the process.
How He Could Win It: Jules Heningburg has been dominant, even performing well against Jarrod Neuman in last week’s bout with the Chaos. If the Woods want to push into third place — or even second — Heningburg will have to produce. They’ll also need to win out versus the Whipsnakes and streaking Chrome (who are also looking to secure the #4 spot). If he continues his trend of controlling the offensive pace and output, then #7 for the Woods will prove very valuable to a team that had a losing record before he arrived.
5. Justin Guterding
Why He Deserves It: Justin Guterding has had the quietest rise to becoming the league leader in points — he’s now #1 with 31, and with good reason. Guterball has been a fantastic shooter and finisher for the Chrome, canning 17 goals – no surprise considering the former Blue Devil has netted the most of any player in Division I Lacrosse history. The lefty has also dished out 14 assists, and only coughed up 12 turnovers which speaks the loudest when you realize two other guys on this list, Rambo and Holman, have 17 and 15 respectively.
How He Could Win It: Justin Guterding has arguably the greatest chance at shocking the world and getting his name etched onto that trophy for league MVP if he keeps doing what he’s doing. The Chrome has just a 15.6% chance of making the playoffs, but if the Archers lose out (they’re matched up against the Chaos and Whips for Week 9 and 10 respectively) and the Knights take down the struggling Atlas in Week 9 and the Redwoods (who are only adding names to the injury report) in Week 10, then you’re looking at a Cinderella team who was able to defy all odds and slide into the playoffs after starting 0-5.
If an attackman leading that charge with 40 points just so happens to be Justin Guterding, I’m really not sure there is any other option for MVP than the Blue Devil himself.
6. Trevor Baptiste
Why He Deserves It: Trevor Baptiste has been the only constant bright spot in a very disappointing first season for the Atlas. He currently leads the league in faceoff percentage with 65.0% and hasn’t played a game where he’s recorded below 54.1%. His dominance at the faceoff X has been incredible especially considering how inconsistent the Atlas has been on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
How He Could Win It: Unfortunately, the Atlas has the toughest road to make the playoffs and the odds are they will be on the outside looking in. However, if Baptiste can give them an advantage in possessions these next two games, the Atlas could win out and with the help of some stars aligning sneak into the playoffs. Yet no matter where the Atlas end up at the end of the season, Baptiste’s presence at the X has been critical for the Atlas and he deserves major recognition.
With so much talent, it seems like a no brainer to choose any one of these players — however, there’s one variable we cannot account for yet, and that is the final standings at the end of Week 10. With just two games left and a number of scenarios that jumbles the #3 and #4 spot, and even the #2, it’s safe to say that the players who step up and make the extra push for their club, will be the most recognized for their efforts.
Regardless of your fandom, the next month will prove to be the most exciting time of the entire summer, and with it will bring four playoff teams — one champion — one MVP — and one wild inaugural PLL season.