Coming off my previous top-5 MVP article, I decided that it may be time to make an update to that list. So much has changed in the NBA since that article was published. It was unclear who the real MVP candidates were at the time, and who the fake candidates were. Now we have a better idea of who those players are. There will always be obvious cases for MVP, but sometimes players come out of the shadows and have an MVP-like year. Last year that superstar was Isaiah Thomas, who finished fifth in MVP voting. Without further or do, here are the top-5 MVP candidates after the All-Star game.
1. James Harden
Yeah, this one hasn’t changed. James Harden is still continuing to be the best player in the NBA this year. For years he’s been a top MVP candidate but could never get his hands on the award. This year should be different than those years. Harden is the only player in the NBA this year to average more than 30 points per game (31.3), and he’s way ahead of the pack. He’s continuing to be one of the best passers and playmaking guards in the league despite playing alongside All-Star snub Chris Paul. With all of that, the Rockets are the team to beat in the NBA. The Rockets are currently the best team in the NBA record-wise, but their record shouldn’t have to explain that. The duo of James Harden and Chris Paul is working wonders for Houston and are becoming the favorites to dethrone the Warriors this season.
James Harden is due for an MVP award. I feel that’s a statement that can be agreed upon by most NBA fans. By putting up the numbers he is, while also being the best player on the best team in the NBA, he should have his first NBA MVP award in the bag. Imagine Harden winning the MVP award then going on to lead Houston to a championship? What a storied season that’d be, but let’s focus on the MVP award first. As long as “the Beard” doesn’t fall off the face of the Earth, this should finally be his year.
2. LeBron James
There are three things in life that are a given: death, taxes, and LeBron James being an MVP candidate. Since he’s been in the league, he’s basically been a top-5 player every season. Last night he joined Michael Jordan as the only players to have at least three All-Star and NBA MVP awards under their belt. This season, LeBron can join Jordan in the 5-time MVP club. Is LeBron the best player in the world today? Probably. Is he currently the best player in the NBA? That can be argued and discussed. LeBron’s averaging a cool 26, 8, & 9 this season. I say cool because these numbers will look childish next to the numbers he’ll post in the playoffs, because, let’s be real, LeBron only cares about the playoffs.
Let’s face it, without LeBron, the Cavaliers would be irrelevant. They can make all the trades they want, but one thing is for sure, if LeBron’s not on that team, they would be a bottom of the barrel team. If LeBron and the Cavs make a second-half of the year come back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, we’ll have a serious discussion over who deserves the MVP award the most. Only LeBron could take bench and role players and turn them into serious weapons on a championship team. Seriously, I’ve never been more afraid of Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood in my life.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak made a jump in my eyes for the MVP race. Realistically, there aren’t many people that can stop this man. LeBron? Kawhi? KD? I don’t know if any of those superstars could even stop Giannis. He’s a freak of nature. He does things every game that doesn’t even seem real or capable of being done, but it’s just normal to him. He actually dunked OVER Tim Hardaway Jr. Like, he fully jumped over that man and dunked the basketball. Just Giannis being Giannis, I guess. At 23-years-old, he’s averaging just about 28 points and over 10 rebounds a game. On top of that, he’s capable of dishing out about five assists a game, as well. The biggest flaw in his game right now is shooting the ball, but, like I said, he’s only 23. He’s averaging nearly 28 points without a jump shot. Imagine him with one? Oh boy.
Giannis won’t win the MVP award this year for a few reasons. One is that the Bucks aren’t a threat in the Eastern Conference. They are a team capable of making it to the second round, but wouldn’t be a threat to any top-tier teams. The second reason is that he’s 23. Give him two or three more years and he’ll be MVP. Here’s the formula for Giannis winning an MVP award: sign another superstar to pair with him and bring the Bucks back to relevancy and on top of the Eastern Conference. If he continues to put up the godly numbers that he does, I don’t think there will be any discussions.
4. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis wasn’t a player I’d consider as an MVP candidate this season, but since his All-Star teammate DeMarcus Cousins went down with an injury for the remainder of the season, Davis has been on a tear. Instead of folding and making this a lost season, the Pelicans continue to win and stay in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Like LeBron and the Cavs, without Anthony Davis right now, the Pelicans would probably be one of the worst team in the NBA. The Pelicans made some moves to help improve their team and keep them in playoff contention, but Davis has been the reason why this team is staying relevant. The Pelicans are currently the eighth seed in the Western Conference but are only one game out of being the fifth seed, and three games behind the Spurs and Timberwolves for the third seed. Crazy stat, right?
In the month of February, Davis has posted 33 points, 11 rebounds, almost three steals and two blocks, while shooting 54% from the field and 43% from three. Those numbers are insane and are some of the best averages in the NBA, if not the best. Davis’ performance after Cousins’ injury has skyrocketed him up the MVP board. Expect it to stay that way for the remainder of the season.
5. Kevin Durant
Last time I made this list, I chose to leave Durant off of it, and instead put Curry ahead of him. Someone on the Warriors has to make the list. Since joining Golden State, it’s quite obvious that Durant’s overall game has improved immensely. Not only does he still have his killer-scoring mentality, but he’s also proved to become an incredible rebounder, playmaker, and defender. Not to mention, Durant will also be a favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year. It’s hard not to notice the incredible all-around season he’s having. He’s averaging 26 points, seven rebounds, nearly six assists, a steal and two blocks a game while shooting 52% from the field and 42% from three. For a guy averaging as many points as he does, those percentages are impressive.
At the end of the day, the Warriors are still the defending champs and Durant is the reigning NBA Finals MVP. The Rockets may be a threat to beat the Warriors at this time, but we’ll see how that changes when it’s playoff time.
Some guys that I left off this list (and it killed me doing so) include Russell Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, and Kyrie Irving. Any of these guys could make the jump onto the top-5 list at some point in the second-half of the season. Like always, everybody has an opinion, so I want to hear yours. Who are your top-5 MVP candidates right now?