Basketball

Where We Stand in the NBA MVP Race

Where We Stand in the NBA MVP Race

If you’re into the whole “NBA regular season – maybe I’ll play defense tonight, maybe I wont” thing, there are a few guys making this season electric. Now there are plenty of gentlemen playing extremely good basketball right now, so don’t get your panties in a bunch if I don’t touch on them in this highly analytical and intelligent blog post.

By Peter Zampa – @pzamp

Stephen Curry is the obvious favorite, and if you think otherwise you’re naïve and need to pay more attention. If it’s because his facial hair is of a babyish ilk, well, I have no retort, carry on. But if you’re into statistics, he has some of those, although to be honest NBA statistics bore me. 23.8 ppg, .484 field goal percentage, .413 three point shooting percentage, and almost eight assists per game.

Shiny statistics aside, it’s not just these all-star numbers that put him ahead of the others. It’s what he provides his team and their supporters, night in and night out. He creates a certain electricity that makes your blood run if you’re from the San Francisco area, or your blood curdle if you’re playing at Oracle Arena on a given night. He fires the crowd and his team up in a way I haven’t seen an NBA player do during the regular season for quite some time. His ball handling makes folks ooh and ahh, his three pointers are so automatic he turns away before they go through the hoop, and his court vision keeps everyone engaged.

Numbers do not tell the whole Stephen Curry story, and if that is what this award is based on, go ahead and give the award to someone else. But for now, Stephen Curry is the most valuable player.

James Harden has been part of the two-dog race with Curry for much of this season, and for justifiable reasons. Since Harden left Oklahoma City a few years ago (goodness gracious what that team would look like had he not), I have been waiting for him to win this award. He has so much pure talent and shooting ability, and the ability to lead a team all by himself. He has been doing just that in Houston, but simply can’t put enough together to lead his team to a championship.

I do not know that he will be able to do so this year either, but if the Rockets do not win it all this year, it will be no fault of his 26.8 ppg, .447 fg%, and seven assists per game. Harden, like Curry, has certain intangibles not depicted in the lovely statisphere. His ability to create his own shot, create space, and finish at the rim is jaw-dropping. Certain plays that he and his lumberjack beard (Harden 1, Curry 0) create and finish are MVP caliber, and they have been for quite some time His ability to finish at the rim is fantastic, and is dangerous for other teams who simply foul the super star, as Harden shoots 87% from the free throw line. There’s little this guy cannot do for himself and his team.

The third and final player on this educated and non-negotiable list is a man who has burst his way into the discussion, as if he was mad he wasn’t always apart of it. I personally have always considered Russell Westbrook a part of this race since the beginning of the season, but that’s neither here nor there.

“OHH YOU DIDN’T PUT IT IN WRITING, DOESN’T COUNT!” For anyone who was about to say that, back off, I sent a text about it probably.

Anyway, this guy, for lack of a better word, is a FREAK. There are probably a lot of words more befitting – athletic, show-stopping, explosive, etc. – but you get my point. The way this man gets down the court is of a 100% Derrick Rose-nature (RIP). If Westbrook pulls down a rebound, he looks to go end-to-end to throw down a dunk right in your eye, as he’s done on multiple occasions this year. His ability to drive, pull-up for a mid-range jump shot and sink it is uncanny, and frankly unparalleled in its abrupt nature. He constantly has teams on their heels and unsure of his next move. He’s proven he can shoot from far distances, and is far-and-away the most athletic point guard in this league. I think Westbrook has some work to do in the MVP race, but claiming his fourth consecutive triple-double last night, with 49 points, 16 boards, and 10 assists, will not hurt his already league-best 27 ppg along with 8.2 assists per game.

The main point of this article is to point out that FOR ONCE there are at least three great reasons to watch the most boring regular season sport of them all. These three guys (and honestly at least 10 more throughout the league) light up their respective gyms nightly, and if you get a chance to watch it is pure entertainment and showmanship for two-and-a-half hours. I’ll let you decide who of these three deserves the MVP trophy, but as of now it’s quite clear that these three are in the lead.

“OHH YOU DIDN’T MENTION LEBRON.” Yeah well, sue me.

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