By Matt Stevenson
April 6, 2015
The NBA MVP race is coming down to the wire with a 5-star cast. LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry are all playing at a phenomenal rate as the season winds down.
Harden and Westbrook both have led their teams despite losing valuable teammates such as Dwight Howard for Harden, and Kevin Durant for Westbrook. LeBron James showed his worth during his 2 week break as the Cavs went 1-7 during that stretch and have looked damn near flawless since. Then, of course, there is Steph Curry who seems as if he’s making memes out of everyone he faces up against. All 4 are having incredible seasons and it is difficult to pick and choose only one player in such a competitive season.
For Steph Curry, his Golden State Warriors currently possess the 1st seed in the Western Conference and also hold the NBA’s best record at 62-13, 6 games ahead of the next best record held by the Atlanta Hawks. Shooting nearly 44% from 3 point range and 59% from the field, Curry is in the top 5 for each respective category.
The super splash brothers have been a force to be reckoned with, but that’s what many are holding against Steph Curry.
Curry has an unbelievable amount of talent around him, arguably the best surrounding crew in the whole NBA. Kay Thompson and Draymond Green are both deserving of max contracts while David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut are no scrubs either. This team has big time players with experience and is a dangerous team to face down the stretch.
So Curry might have easily had the best season with team success as well as individual success, but the talent around him may end up hurting him in the end.
Next lets talk about the king himself, LeBron James. As mentioned earlier we noticed how awful the Cavaliers played when LeBron was out for his two-week break and how good they were when he returned. Arguably the most dangerous team in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers have successfully defied the laws of throwing together a new team and staff while actually winning.
It doesn’t happen often. Steve Kerr of the Warriors is a rookie coach as well, however he went into a system under previous Golden State Coach Mark Jackson that had the same players with great team chemistry. This Cavs team has a rookie Head Coach in David Blatt, except he doesn’t know the NBA like Kerr does. Oh, and only 3 players from last years team are even on the current roster.
However, there are some scratches on the surface to LeBron’s MVP case. Similar to Curry, LeBron has a gifted roster full of talent and potential. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love obviously are two of the top players in the league, despite the disappointing season of Love. JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are also worthy of mentioning as the great talent this Cavs team holds. Finally buying into David Blatt’s system, this Cavs team truly is a Championship contender and may even be the favorite.
In Houston all I hear is “Fear the Beard” from the Rockets fans. This man has really put the pressure on Oklahoma City to win soon as they traded possibly the best scorer in the league. His versatility is hard to compare as he is not afraid to take a shot on any part of the court. It seems like he has a 40-point game each week and his team currently holds the 2 seed in the brutal Western Conference.
Oh yeah, by the way this is without All-Star Center Dwight Howard and starting Point Guard Patrick Beverly. An injury plagued roster and losing the 3rd counterpart in Chandler Parsons from last season would assembly doom this Houston Rockets team, similar to how the Thunder currently hurt. Except Hardens Rockets are winning. Consistently winning despite the injuries are something all other MVP candidates can’t compete with.
But wait, Russell Westbrook is on a more injury prone team with last years NBA MVP, Kevin Durant, out for the season along with injuries to pretty much half of the roster. Although true, there is one big difference between Harden and Westbrook… Harden is sitting in the 2 spot in the West while Westbrook and the Thunder and fighting for their playoff lives. 11 triple-doubles by Westbrook is as incredible as it gets on an individual standpoint, however they aren’t always getting his team wins.
There have been point guards, recently and in past-time that have put up similar numbers yet still won. Jason Kidd did it in New Jersey in the early 2000’s while the big “O” Oscar Robinson did it as well back in the old days. If Westbrook and his Thunder don’t make the playoffs, it’s hard to even mention him in the discussion.
After this long post, I think it’s safe for me now to make a decision on my MVP for this season and I’m going to have to go with James Harden. As a biased Cavaliers fan, it hurts to give it to someone else aside LeBron, but Harden hasn’t had the talent LeBron and Curry have all year while still putting up incredible numbers as well as winning. This is no landslide this year and as a matter of fact, this is the tightest MVP race the league has seen in recent time.
This exhilarating MVP race is just the beginning of a post-season in which has me extremely excited due to the amount of legitimate contenders. Of course, the MVP is announced during the playoffs so as this exciting season winds down we look forward to the NBA playoffs. James Harden gets my vote, but it will definitely be a close one.