As the NBA regular season is coming to a close, the race for MVP is starting to heat up. The top 10 candidates have been determined by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of star players up to this point in the season.
Although there are no official standards for winning the league MVP, many factors are considered, including box score, wins, advanced statistics, team value, and history.
Jimmy Butler has had an amazing first season with his new team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and up until a recent knee injury, he was a significant contender for league MVP. Although his chances for MVP have dropped, his numbers still impress.
Offensively, Butler is averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and five assists per game, while most likely leading the Timberwolves to the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons. Butler is also a star on perimeter defense, making him one of the best two-way players in the league.
One flaw to his game is his poor outside shooting. Butler is only averaging 35.6 percent from the three-point line this season. He will most likely not win the hardware this year, but has ensured a bright future for the T-Wolves.
After a rocky trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving is showing the league he can be a superstar without LeBron James. Irving is leading the Celtics to the second seed in the Eastern Conference with his outstanding offensive game. He is averaging 24.8 points on a 49 field goal percentage, making him an efficient scorer. He is an exceptional three-point shooter, as well. Irving’s greatest strength is his ball handling; he is possibly the greatest ball handler in the NBA right now, and dribbles like no one else.
Although he is great on offense, he is much weaker on the defensive end. Irving does not have the greatest chances of winning MVP, but he could lead the Celtics to a championship this season.
Russell Westbrook, the reigning MVP of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is coming off a historical year after becoming the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for the entire regular season. This season, he is close to doing it again, currently averaging 25.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 10.2 assists per game. He is also leading the league in overall assists and assists per game. Westbrook is known for his explosiveness and athleticism that allows him to stay consistent throughout the game and finish at the rim.
On the defensive end, Westbrook is great at stealing the ball, averaging 1.9 steals per game, but overall is not very involved on that end of the floor. Westbrook’s greatest drawback is his efficiency. He is shooting only 44.1 percent from the field and a horrible 28.6 percent from three, along with having 4.7 turnovers per game. Although Westbrook fills up the box score, his poor efficiency is holding him back.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is an outstanding young player on the Milwaukee Bucks and continues to fill up the box score, averaging 27.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. Antetokounmpo is dominant in the post, using his size to his advantage. He is also a good ball handler and passer compared to most players his size. His wingspan helps in making him a good defender, allowing him to steal the ball and block shots easily.
The greatest flaw in Antetokounmpo’s case for MVP is that he has only been able to lead his team to 33 wins so far this season. This is low, compared to the other MVP candidates, and may cost him the award. Overall, Antetokounmpo is an outstanding all around player, and since he is very young, he will likely become MVP at some point in his career.
Against all odds, DeMar DeRozan is leading the Toronto Raptors to the first seed in the Eastern Conference. DeRozan is averaging 23.7 points and 5.2 assists per game. He is a good ball handler and a decent defender, averaging 1.2 steals per game. DeRozan’s best characteristic that defines his play is his outstanding midrange shooting; he scores a quarter of his points from midrange distance.
Unfortunately, DeRozan is a poor rebounder, only averaging 3.9 rebounds per game. He is not the greatest three-point shooter as well, averaging 31.6 percent from beyond the arc. DeRozan’s team success is a huge factor in his case for MVP, but it might not be enough.
Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans has more recently proven that he has a legitimate chance at MVP this season. During the regular season, Davis has been averaging a double-double with 28.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, but since the injury of All-Star teammate DeMarcus Cousins, he has been putting up even more impressive numbers. In the month of February, he averaged 35 points and 13 rebounds while leading his team to a seven game winning streak.
Davis is a beast in the paint and a great midrange shooter, but could improve on his three-point shooting. His defense is impressive, making him an outstanding two-way player, and his insane 7’6″ wingspan helps him average 1.4 steals and 2.2 blocks per game. Davis is a great all around player, except for his passing, averaging only 2.4 assists per game. If Davis continues to play how he did in February, he has a legitimate shot at MVP.
Freshman Riley Bouchard says, “Anthony Davis has a solid chance at winning MVP this season. He is no doubt the best big man in the league and recently his numbers have been insane. He is valuable to his team and has led them to a playoff seed, which was unexpected after the injury of Cousins.”
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is the greatest three-point shooter of all time, and is an offensive machine. On the scoring end, Curry is averaging 26.7 points per game on 49.2 percent from the field and 4.2 three-pointers made per game on an insane 42.2 three-point percentage. Curry is also a great free throw shooter, shooting 92 percent from the line. Besides Irving, Curry is the best ball handler in the league and he is a fairly good passer. Curry has helped lead his team into the second seed in the Western Conference and the second best record in the NBA.
The one greatest flaw of Curry’s play is his defense. Due to his small size, Curry is not a good defender and just cannot guard the bigger players in the game. With that being said, Curry is still an offensive juggernaut and has established his presence in the MVP race.
Curry’s teammate, Kevin Durant, has had a very strong season as well. He is averaging 26.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.4 assists on offense and is a very efficient shooter from everywhere, shooting 52.6 percent from the field. He is easily able to get to the free throw line and is a skilled free throw shooter with 88.3 percent from the line. Durant’s wingspan allows him to be a solid defender and shot blocker, causing him to average 1.9 blocks per game.
Since he is a skinnier forward in the NBA, it can be difficult for him to guard larger players well. Durant is an efficient two-way player and one of the best players in the league, which could get him the MVP this season.
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is the greatest basketball player currently in the NBA, and arguably a top three player of all time. He is a top three contender for MVP this season and is 33 years old, which is absolutely ridiculous. Scoring wise, James is averaging an impressive 26.7 points per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field. Due to his athleticism, he is one of the best at scoring in the post. While being a great scorer, James is a phenomenal passer and averages 9.1 assists per game. On defense, James still impresses, with 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.
One issue with his game is that he isn’t the best free throw shooter, shooting only 73.7 percent from the line. Being the best current player, LeBron continues to establish his dominance in the league and his skill set might lead him to another MVP.
However, James Harden of the Houston Rockets is most likely to win MVP this season. After being the runner up for the past two seasons, it’s about time Harden takes home the hardware. Harden is an elite scorer, leading the league in points, averaging 31.2 points per game this season. Getting to the free throw line is easy for Harden, and he shoots well from there at 86.4 percent. Harden is also good at racking up rebounds and assists, averaging 5.2 rebounds and 8.9 assists. Other attributes include his elite ball handling and his ability to shoot from anywhere. Harden has also been able to lead the Houston Rockets to the number one seed in the Western Conference.
Cons to Harden’s game include his poor defense and the large number of times he turns the ball over at 4.3 turnovers per game. However, due to his elite scoring combined with how well his team is doing, Harden is very likely to win NBA MVP this season.
Freshman Nick Laughery says, “I think James Harden is going to win MVP because he has had a good season so far and is also leading his team to a very good year. They are 1st in the West right now, and no one has been as productive on offense as him. Other candidates like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving aren’t leading their teams to as great seasons like Harden has.”
Who do you think will win the 2018 NBA MVP and why?
#nba #ClevelandCavaliers #MinnesotaTimberwolves #MVP #StephCurry #LebronJames #TorontoRaptors #MilwaukeeBucks #OklahomaCityThunder #HoustonRockets #GoldenStateWarriors #RussellWestbrook #KevinDurant #KyrieIrving #KevinHoppe