Monday, March 16, 2015

A Look at the Top 5 MVP Candidates to This Point in the NBA Season

By Jason Fletcher

With the NBA entering it's final 6 weeks of the regular season, one of the hot topics is who should be the NBA's most valuable player. At different points in the year, the media has thrown many different names out as favorites and there will probably be another name or two to join the discussion by the end of the season. Here are my top 5:

1.James Harden Houston Rockets-I am not a Harden fan, especially after he intentionally kicked LeBron James between the legs last week, but when you look at his numbers and his team's record he has to be the favorite. He has played the majority of the year without the team's other superstar, Dwight Howard, and yet he has kept his team rolling right along as they sit in 4th in the Western Conference with a 41-20 record. He is 2nd in the NBA in scoring with 26.9 points a game while also adding 7 assists and 5.8 rebounds. Short of a huge slide down the stretch or an injury, I believe he ends up being the 2015 NBA MVP.

2.LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers-LeBron really hurt his MVP chances early in the season when the team was struggling and he looked disinterested and pouty. The Cavaliers started the season 19-20 and rumors started to circulate about head coach David Blatt being fired and LeBron and Kevin Love opting out of their contracts at the end of year. Since that point, Cleveland has gone 20-5 and look like legitimate title contenders. LeBron has been the biggest driving force behind this surge and looks like like he has been reborn. He has been driving to the basket repeatedly. If he doesn't score then he draws fouls. He has been finding his teammates wide-open for threes. Anything the team needs he has been giving it to them. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that he finally realized that he needed to be the guy every single night, but also because I believe he really wants to be the MVP. In the end, I don't think he can quite get there because of that stretch early in the season.

3.Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder-What a recent stretch Russ has put up. He has 4 straight triple-doubles and is obviously playing like the MVP right now. If he keeps this type of play up for the last 6 weeks then he will be accepting the award at the end of the year. I just don't think it's possible that he can sustain this type of production. At some point, Kevin Durant will return from his foot injury and when Durant is on the floor, Westbrook isn't even the MVP on his own team. Westbrook does currently lead the NBA with 27 points per game as well as 8.2 assists and 7 rebounds. Those are remarkable numbers, but when Durant comes back they will go down.

4.Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors-Curry was the early season favourite. He is currently averaging 23.8 points per game along with 7.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds. The Warriors do have the best record in the Western Conference and Curry is the leader and point guard. He is also a deadly shooter as well as a ridiculous facilitator. The biggest thing standing in his way of the MVP is he doesn't quite have the numbers of the top 3 candidates. His team is more of a balanced squad and he doesn't have to be relied upon to put up 30 points a night. Still, he has to be in the discussion for being the best player on the best team.

5.Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans-Mark my words, Anthony Davis will one day be the best player in the NBA. His skill set is unlike any other player. He can shoot from anywhere, he can handle, he can rebound, he can pass, and he can defend. The sky is the limit for him. Right now though, the players around him just aren't good enough to make this team a threat. If the Pelicans were say 3rd or 4th in the conference instead of 9th, then his name would be a little higher on this list. He is averaging 24 points a game to go with 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. He may not be the front-runner this year, but his time is coming.