By Eduardo Monk Jr.
The glorious NBA season has finally returned and with it, the yearly awards speculations and predictions. The NBA MVP is one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports and to receive even just one is enough to propel a player’s name from popular to legendary. So let’s not delay on this one, let’s hop right into the ten most likely players to win MVP this season.
Griffin is in a good situation in his quest for MVP. Since the Clippers moved on from the alpha Chris Paul, he is now the man for LA. After multiple rough seasons due to injury, a comeback good enough to put the Clippers in the Western Conference playoff race could be enough to spark a little debate for Griffin as MVP. Likely? Probably not. He has briefly flashed MVP caliber talent but it’ll take a lot more than just talent for him to pull in the award over some of the other players on this list.
Hate this pick all you want, but Curry is still a top ten player in the league and arguably the best player on the best team in the league. His dominance as the unanimous MVP may never be repeated, but he’s shown us time and time again his uncanny ability to simply take over games.
Obviously with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green taking some of the spotlight off of Curry, we may never see the 2015 version of him ever again. But he still has that same magic with him and because of that, can’t be completely omitted from the MVP talk.
Lillard has always played with a chip on his shoulder, and when he plays with a chip on his shoulder, he can tap into some otherworldly levels of heart and talent combined. We have yet to see him break out and join the elite point guard conversation with names like Curry, Westbrook and Irving but he has touched greatness multiple times so far.
And now his back is against the wall. He’s stuck on an average team in a loaded Western Conference. This gives him some pretty low expectations that if he can blow out of the water enough could make enough noise for some consideration. Leading the Trail Blazers to a high seed in such a strong West could possibly be enough for a spot as a finalist.
The Timberwolves are a team on a heavy rise and a large chunk of that is due to Towns. The 21-year old has already cemented himself as a top center in the league with the potential for a whole lot more. It’s only a matter of time until he is able to take that next step and lead the unruly Timberwolves. In a stacked West, it looks as if Towns will have a little while to wait until the Wolves are good enough to contend. But a historically great season from him could be enough propel Minnesota to the West’s elite.
Winning MVP would make him the second youngest recipient in NBA history, which I guess hurts his case in terms of likelihood. Either way, Towns has the chance to pull in multiple MVPs in his career. Maybe not this year, but it won’t be long until KAT takes over.
If Durant is able to pull some of that wizardry from last season’s Finals, he will be able to make a very strong case for the MVP. He played phenomenally on both sides of the ball, making a fool out of the best player on the planet for four full games.
The reason he wouldn’t win is the same with Curry, the Warriors are a team contingent on chemistry and teamwork. In their system, one player can’t dominate because there are three other players who can dominate just as well as he can. It’s a team that doesn’t succeed in hero ball, limiting Durant and with it, limiting his MVP case. But hey, with a little Finals magic over a full season could be enough for him take his second MVP.
Kawhi has evolved into the league’s prime attractions in the past couple of seasons. From solid defensive anchor to elite defensive anchor to full blown superstar was exciting to say the least. Finally blowing up into a star in the 2014 Finals was a story that will be honored through the generations. But the question still remains-how much more potential does Leonard have to burn? A career like he’s put together is Hall of Fame worthy, no doubt. But whether or not he can improve enough to overtake more flashy candidates will decide whether or not he can pull in his first MVP.
Only three other guards have won MVP multiple times. And two of them probably didn’t even deserve it. There’s no way Russ is going to repeat the triple double standard he set for himself last season with the introductions of fellow all-stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, but who’s to say he won’t average 30 points and 14 assists a night while leading this Thunder team to a top three seed in the West. Barring some other player having a season for the ages, a campaign like that or similar could very well be enough to rake in his second MVP.
So long as LeBron is in the league, he will always be an MVP candidate. The only reason he wouldn’t is his tendency to coast through the regular season but as a top three player all time means he will never not be an MVP candidate. If he really tried, like he does in the playoffs, he would unanimous almost every season. But since he understands he doesn’t have to overexert himself until the playoffs because he’s guaranteed to make it on a yearly basis, we may never see James’ full potential over the course of a whole year. But you can never really count him out of the MVP talks.
Harden has been a player nibbling on the MVP only to be beaten out by someone that much better than him. The past three seasons of his, in almost any other year, would land him an MVP. But when someone can average a triple double for a season, your chances sink like a stone. And now the Rockets have given him a new toy in Chris Paul who now wants to captain the ship. To say his journey for an MVP is a rigorous road would be an understatement but as he has shown in the past, he’s a player with the capability to contend on a yearly basis. This could be the year of his breakthrough.
1: Giannis Antetokounmpo
MVPs are not always the best player in the league, it’s more often the player with the best story. Coming out of out of semi-pro leagues in Greece, few had expected him to be able to contribute and even fewer had expected him to become a star. But now, we’re currently watching generational talent blossoming into it’s own.
And outside of just talent, the NBA as a league is nearing a crossroads. The LeBron James era is coming to an impending close and for the foreseeable future, the league lacks a polarizing figure equivalent to a James or Kobe Bryant. This could be the year of the Giannis, the year he takes over the league and puts himself into the conversation as the best player on the planet and then some. The foreign player that nobody bet on explodes onto the scene and takes down the big bad LeBron James is a plotline the NBA can invest in for years to come. A plotline that could start this very season.