WE have been treated to an unusually large number of MVP candidates throughout this season. However, with around 15 games left in the NBA season, some of the hopefuls are starting to fall by the wayside, with four genuine threats still in the running, separated into two tiers. For the second last time this year let’s check in on the SBF NBA MVP Ladder.
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Better Luck Next Year
LeBron James, Lakers – 27.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 8.1 APG
YOU have to travel back in time to the 2005-06 season to find the last time LeBron didn’t finish in the top-5 for MVP voting. It’s a shame that his season was hampered by injury, but with four trophies of his own already, he won’t lose any sleep over it. Missing the playoffs however, well that’s a different story.
Steph Curry, Warriors – 27.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.2 APG
CURRY is in a similar boat to LeBron with his sights set on another ring over another MVP trophy. If Kevin Durant leaves in the offseason though, he could have a chance at winning his third individual honour, that is if he can stay healthy for 70+ games.
Damian Lillard, Trailblazers – 26.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.4 APG
IT’S hard for Damian Lillard to make a serious push for the award given how many viable candidates are in the mix. Still, he deserves to be in this group as one of the league’s best scorers.
Anthony Davis, Pelicans – 26.6 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 4.0 APG
SIGH, another year another season of Anthony Davis’ prime wasted. Unfortunately, it’s not injury that’s hampering his candidacy this season, rather the ongoing strife that eventuated following his public trade request. A change of scenery would not only benefit his play but perhaps his MVP chances as well.
Kevin Durant, Warriors – 27.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.7 APG
KEVIN Durant doesn’t really stand a chance of winning another MVP award in Golden State, unless he goes on a historic statistical streak, much like James Harden has this year. Moving teams in the offseason could change that though…
Kyrie Irving, Celtics – 23.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 6.9 APG
SPEAKING of changing teams in the offseason, another pending free agent who is an honourable mention is Kyrie Irving. I don’t think his future holds an MVP in it, but if he goes to a team where he is their only true superstar and the focal point of the offense, Irving could go on a scoring tear and claim one similar to Allen Iverson in the past.
Kawhi Leonard, Raptors – 27.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.3 APG
KAWHI Leonard has played the same amount of games that his team has wins. With just 48 appearances on the court, he has donned street clothes for 19 contests as a Raptor. That’s just not enough games played to be taken seriously as an MVP threat.
4. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (43-22)
Season Stats (64 games): 20.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 7.6 APG; 50.5 FG%, 32.4 3P%, 83.6 FT%
Last Rank: 3rd ( 1)
BAD news for Nikola Jokic, his slide down the rankings has nothing to do with his own play. One of the most popular factors for players when it comes to an MVP push is the narrative of their season and for Jokic, his Nuggets losing four of their last five has dented his chances. There is still a world where Denver finds their mojo and finishes the season hot, but with the ninth hardest remaining schedule I can’t see it happening. It’s a shame because Big Honey is having a statistical season for the ages, but he’ll need 55+ wins to be a legitimate chance of claiming the award.
3. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder (40-26)
Season Stats (62 games): 28.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.2 APG; 44.1 FG%, 39.0 3P%, 83.9 FT%
Last Rank: 4th ( 1)
MISSING three games recently with a mysterious shoulder injury has caused a lot of Paul George faithful to abandon the bandwagon. His three games since returning to the court haven’t been awe-inspiring either, shooting just 20-64 (31.3%) from the field and 8-32 (25%) from downtown. It does dent his season’s body of work, but it doesn’t derail the train completely, with one of those three performances a match-winning 32 point haul in an overtime triumph against Portland. It’s hard to see George topping one of the top-2 without a serious bucket binge to close out the regular season, especially given OKC’s tough road (fourth hardest remaining schedule).
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (50-17)
Season Stats (62 games): 27.0 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 6.0 APG; 58.0 FG%, 24.8 3P%, 71.5 FT%
Last Rank: 1st ( 1)
ROCK, hard place. I seem to be flip-flopping my MVP decision with each day that passes and as of right now, Giannis is destined for a silver medal. Take nothing away from the Greek Freak, with his performances since the All-Star break extremely consistent and still somewhat mind-boggling. Since the festivities in Charlotte, Antetokounmpo is shooting 37% from three-point land, sending fear throughout the rest of the league over what Giannis could become with a consistent jump-shot. He has the team record on his side in an MVP argument, but with their sights set on a deep playoff run, the Milwaukee Bucks seem destined on prioritising the health of their superstar, playing him just 32 minutes a night over the last 10 games.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets (41-25)
Season Stats (62 games): 36.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 7.5 APG; 43.7 FG%, 35.9 3P%, 87.8 FT%
Last Rank: 2nd ( 1)
AN eight-game winning streak has not only propelled the Rockets into a top-3 seed out West, but it’s enhanced Harden’s chance of winning consecutive Maurice Podoloff trophies. The return of a healthy Chris Paul has Houston running at an impressive clip right now with road victories against Boston, Golden State and Toronto in their streak. Harden undeniably had the individual stats to justify MVP votes going his way, but with every win the Rockets record his chances are only enhanced. With just six games remaining against likely postseason squads, it’s Harden’s MVP to lose right now.