The race for the Most Valuable Player award in the NBA this season is shaping up to be the most unpredictable and hotly-contested MVP race in recent memory.


 
By this writer’s count, a legitimate case could be made for at least six different players to be crowned the Association’s top dog, which is ridiculous because I can’t remember the last time there were even as many as four. Below, we’ll outline the cases for and against each player.
 

Anthony Davis, C – New Orleans Pelicans

 

The Case For:

Averaging a line of 24.7/10.4/2.0 to go along with a league-leading 2.9 blocks per game, Davis is probably the most statistically dominant player in basketball right now.

He leads the league in Player Efficiency Rating at 31.15, the only player this season to have a PER over 30.
 
Even with a supporting cast that most would consider a bit lacking, The Unibrow has dominated thoroughly enough to lead his team to a winning record in the West, with New Orleans currently clocking in at a more-than-respectable 39-34.
 

 

The Case Against:

While his team’s record of 39-34 is undoubtedly very respectable, it’s not quite playoff respectable, at least not in the bitterly competitive West.
 
The Pelicans are currently 2.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Thunder with less than ten games to go, and look like they’ll be left on the outside looking in this year. MVP’s lead their teams to the playoffs – it’s as simple as that.
 

Chris Paul, PG – Los Angeles Clippers

 

The Case For:

Paul is making a late push to add his name to this crowded ballot.

Over the last seven games, he’s led his Clippers on an unbeatable tear and propelled them to a record of 49-25, good for the fourth best record in the West and putting them in legitimate striking distance of the second seed.
 
He leads the league in both assists-per-game (10.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.1), and is tied with James Harden for the league-lead in Offensive Win Shares (10.8), an advanced stat which measures a player’s total accumulated worth to his team on the offensive end.
 

The Case Against:

His overall per-game numbers (18.8/4.6/10.1 with 1.9 steals) just aren’t quite on par with the other players in the MVP race.

Not only that, but it could be argued that the most dominant facet of his game – his assists – are as much a product of his talented teammates as they are of him.
 
It’s probably much easier to rack up dimes when you’re tossing up lobs to the likes of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, or kicking the ball out to the likes of JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford. The effectiveness of his teammates muddies the waters a bit as to who’s responsible for the team’s success.
 

Russell Westbrook, PG – Oklahoma City Thunder

 

The Case For:

He’s been the most electric and unstoppable player in basketball for the last two months since Durant went down, boosting his per-game stat line up to a LeBron-esque 27.6/8.6/7.2 with 2.2 steals.
 
Even without Durant and also Serge Ibaka for stretches, Westbrook has managed to do what Anthony Davis could not do by willing his team into a likely playoff spot out West.
 

 
His 27.6 points and 2.2 steals per game both lead the league, he tops the league in usage rate at a whopping 38.3%, and he’s second in the league in PER at 29.3.
 

The Case Against:

Though his per-game numbers may be off the charts, Westbrook has played in only 59 games this season, missing fifteen contests early on due to injury.

Granted, he himself can hardly be blamed for that, but the fact remains that the MVP award is viewed through the scope of the entire season, and the games that Westbrook missed early on cannot be ignored.
 
You cannot provide value to your team when you’re not on the floor, and Westbrook has missed more game-action this season than any other player in this race. He’s also shooting only 42.5% from the field and 29.7% from deep on the season.
 

James Harden, SG – Houston Rockets

 

The Case For:

Harden ranks in the top-three in just about every statistical category that has to do with scoring.
 
He’s second in points-per-game (27.2), first in total points (1,957), first in field goal attempts (1,306), first in both free throws attempted (727) and free throws made (630), tied for first in Offensive Win Shares (10.8), and first in Total Win Shares (14.6).
 
He’s also third in the league in minutes-per-game at 36.8. All that while leading his team to a 50-23 record – good for second best in the West right now – even though they were without Dwight Howard for long stretches.
 

The Case Against:

He might very well be the best scorer in the league, but his efficiency, versatility and defensive impact don’t measure up to the other players in the MVP race.
 
He leads the league in field goals missed with 733, and while his averages of 5.7 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game are well above average for his position, they’re not quite as gaudy as some of the other candidates’ numbers in those categories.

Harden can’t, or perhaps just doesn’t, dominate the game in as many ways as say a Westbrook or a LeBron or a Unibrow.
 

Steph Curry, PG – Golden State Warriors

 

The Case For:

He’s been the best player on the best team all season long, spearheading his Warriors league-leading offense and guiding them to a sparkling record of 60-13 through 73 games so far.

The sharp-shooting PG been a model of efficiency this season, putting up a line of 23.7/4.3/7.9 with 2.1 steals, all while shooting a ridiculous 48.2% from the field, 43.1% from three, and 91.3% from the line.
 
His free-throw percentage is good for tops in the league, while his three-point percentage is good for fifth best. He leads the league in three-pointers attempted (573), three-pointers made (247), total steals (149).
 

 
He’s also third in the league in PER (28.0) and second in Offensive Win Shares (10.3).
 

The Case Against:

Despite his gaudy steal totals, Curry is not a very good defensive player.

In addition to that, the fact that this Warriors team is so loaded at every position may end up hurting his MVP case a little, since voters will have a harder time attributing the team’s success to Curry’s value alone.
 
For instance, Klay Thompson may be in line to receive a few MVP votes himself – that will surely detract from Curry’s chances.
 

LeBron James, SF – Cleveland Cavaliers

 

The Case For:

LeBron is, for all intents and purposes, the best player in the world. That will remain a fact whether he wins this award or not.
 
He affects the game in the most ways, he draws the most attention from opposing defenses, and he makes the game the easier for his teammates than any other player.
 
He’s taken a team with a rookie head coach that finished 33-49 last season and turned them completely around in the span of a few months, leading them to a 48-27 record this year that’s good for second in the East.
 

 
Even in what’s been something of an off-year for him, he still ranks second in the league in field goals made with 587, third in points-per-game at 25.7, and fourth in both PER (26.0) and usage rate (32.6%).
 

The Case Against:

Like Russell Westbrook, LeBron has missed a significant chunk of time this season, playing in only 64 of his team’s 75 games thus far. That mitigates his overall value for the year.
 
Not only that, but team plays in the East, and from this writer’s perspective, it would be almost criminally unfair if the MVP were to not come out of the vastly superior West this season.
 
Voter fatigue could also play a part for LeBron here, considering he has already won the award four times and the writers who participate in the voting are always looking for a fresh new scoop.
 

Consensus

 
Well, there you have it, folks: the cases for and against the six legitimate MVP candidates this season, in no particular order.

For the record, if I had a vote it would be going to Steph Curry – sometimes the best answer is the most obvious one – but I don’t have a vote, so Steph will just have to hope he wins without my support. Agree? Disagree? Don’t care and think this whole article was stupid? Well then leave a comment below!

7 Responses

  1. Arianna

    i think james harden will win the mvp this year though i’m a solid lebron fan. he is helping his team to win without DH12 and still top 2 or 3 in the league. eventhough he got a poor defense, LOL.

    but still lebron is the best player in the planet 😛 GO CAVS!!!!!!! beat the SPURS in the finals!!!!!! LOL…

    Reply
  2. bballporshort

    Deandre Jordan bdp(best defensive player)

    Javale McGee(best comedian player)bcp

    Reply
  3. Aunne

    I think Steph Curry should be the MVP. As said in the article, “He’s been the best player on the best team all season long.” Michael Jordan was also the best player of the best team during his time. The Bulls at that time was also star-studded yet he still got the award.

    Reply
    • Ronaldo S Pabalan Jr

      Stephen Curry is the best but Russel Westbrook is my MVP .

      Reply
  4. Nicholas

    Im voting for Curry. Anyone with half a brain would after seeing that basket he made while TRIPPING to the ground.

    Who do u all think should win?

    Reply

Join the Conversation