Last year, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant dominated the league with 32 points per game, leading the Thunder to consecutive playoff appearances, beating out LeBron James and taking home the coveted Most Valuable Player Award. This season, the reigning MVP has missed almost a half a season due to injury.
Durant suffered a broken foot in the offseason and had to get a screw reinserted into his foot. His absence has provided the entrance of players like Golden State guard Stephen Curry, Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook and New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis. These four players along with LeBron James have shook up the league this season and a clear frontrunner is not truly present. Thus, I will give you my thoughts on each player.
5. Anthony Davis PF/C New Orleans Pelicans
– PPG: 25 REB: 10 BLOCKS: 3
- Since the “Brow” entered the NBA in 2012, he has been one of the most dominant offense and defensive players in the league. Drawing comparisons to the skill level of the likes of LeBron James almost everyday, the 6-foot, 10-inch prospect from Kentucky has literally taken the New Orleans Pelicans franchise and put it on his back. Anthony Davis deserves to at least be put in the MVP conversation.
- He is having a record- breaking season while trying to carry Monty Williams and 12 NBA players into the eighth seed in the Western Conference. That’s a lot to ask for someone who just turned 22 this month.
- LeBron James can attest to this, seeing as he had to do it early in his career. Davis has grown statically every season and is currently sitting at fourth in scoring this year. If he can push New Orleans into the playoffs for the first time since the Chris Paul era, maybe the Brow can snag MVP honors.
4. Russell Westbrook PG Oklahoma City Thunder
PPG: 28 ASSISTS: 8 REBOUNDS: 7
- You have to be living under a rock to not be aware of what Russell Westbrook has been doing on the hardwood. Westbrook has been putting up monster numbers in his past games, dropping back-to-back triple doubles.
- “The Real MVP” anyone? Maybe it’s the mask he’s wearing after suffering that face injury. I can’t even count all of Westbrook’s triple doubles on one hand. Yes he has struggled with turnovers, but you cannot deny the kind of video game numbers he is putting up.
- He is single handily trying to fight off Anthony Davis and the Pelicans for the eighth spot in the Western Conference to get the Thunder back into the playoffs. Believe it or not, Westbrook will probably need to elevate his game even more, not to just keep the eighth spot but also to make up for the loss of Serge Ibaka.
- Reigning MVP Kevin Durant is not too far away from his return. Thus, it will help the Thunder tremendously. We will also get to see if that slows down Westbrook’s rampage.
3. James Harden SG Houston Rockets
PPG 27 ASSITS 7 REBOUNDS 6
- Charles Barkley would agree the only thing missing from James Harden’s skillset this season is a pair of trimmers. Personally, I like the beard, and I personally love his game.
- “Fear the Beard” is in full effect and the Rockets rank third in the Western Conference. Who would have expected this left handed shooter from Arizona State to just blow up on the NBA stage and have an NBA franchise talking about a championship. This is the same guy, who everyone thought back in the 2012 NBA Finals, choked and lost the series for the Thunder.
- Three years later, a new team and a fully-grown beard, James Harden elevated his game and earned a spot, as one of the best players the NBA has to offer. Harden is a point guard playing shooting guard, a major reason why he sits at ninth in assists and second in scoring.
- He has amazing ball handling skills. He’s one of the best players ever to put on a Rocket uniform next to Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and the great Hakeem Olajuwon. So it’s clear, Harden should be in the conversation now and for years to come. As long as the Beard stays, the Rockets have nothing but a bright future ahead of them.
2. LeBron James SF Cleveland Cavaliers
PPG 26 ASSITS: 7 REBOUNDS: 6
- Did you even think for a second that the “King” of basketball wouldn’t be on this list?
- The four- time MVP and two-time NBA champion made his historic return back to Cleveland during the offseason with the same goal he set for the city back in 2003, to win a championship. The last time James wore a Cleveland uniform, he was the Cavaliers team, which pretty much was the catalyst for many of his postseason failures with the team.
- Now, James is surrounded by nothing but talent. All-Stars Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, followed by great role players like J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Mike Miller, Kendrick Perkins, James Jones and and former All-Star Shawn Marion, James has been the undisputed leader for this team.
- The Cavaliers rank second in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland suffered some ups and downs during the season, but James was able to control the reigns and put the Cavs where they need to be. Thus, James is in the MVP conversation because he is a true leader.
- James can push through adversity. He has seen milestones this season, passing both Ray Allen and Allen Iverson in all-time scoring. This isn’t the same 18-year-old LeBron James in Cleveland, this is a 30-year-old veteran who has the battle scars to prove his worth.
- James ranks third in scoring, seventh in assists and sits one MVP honors away from tying Michael Jordan.
1. Stephen Curry PG Golden State Warriors
PPG: 23 ASSITS: 8 REBOUNDS: 4
- Stephen Curry sits at number one for this reason. I am starting to believe that Stephen Curry is not a real person. He is the without question the NUMBER ONE SHOOTER IN THE NBA. The other half of “The Splash Duo” in Golden State can score threes in ways that the great Reggie Miller probably could not. One thing is certain; he gets buckets and a lot of them.
- Due to Curry’s production, Golden State has the number one spot in the Western Conference and the best record in the NBA. Golden State is almost unstoppable offensively with Curry.
- Not to mention, Klay Thompson is there too. Curry ranks seventh overall in scoring and sixth in assists. Curry also thrives under pressure.
- With Golden State rolling and Curry continuing to put up big numbers, one has to begin to believe that Curry could be the next NBA MVP.