Three Second Look writers decided to talk about who the NBA Most Valuable Player should be for 2015. Here are the cases for who we think should be crowned league MVP.
Anthony Davis has only improved in his first three seasons in the NBA. He had career highs across the board and played 68 games for the first time in his career. Most importantly, Davis carried his New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs, and that is the reason why he is a dark horse MVP contender.
Let’s first compare Anthony Davis to other power forwards, and when one looks he is by far the best power forward. He has the highest the PER among all power forwards with 30. The next highest one was Blake Griffin with 22. LaMarcus Aldridge is not as efficient as Davis is, does not average as many points or rebounds and his defense is nowhere close to the level of Davis’. Moreover, Griffin missed more games than Davis and did not even average anything close to a double double. Clearly, Davis has the clear advantage over his power forward peers.
Davis is the unanimous MVP of the Pelicans. When one looks at the other players they see that no one comes close. Only four other players on the team averaged over 10 points, and no other player other than Davis averaged over 20 points. Davis’ MVP stock goes down because his team was an eighth seed. However, I think this is where Davis’s main argument for MVP comes in. This team had no business of getting into the playoffs without him. If you look at the 14 games Davis missed, New Orleans went 6-8 without him. The Pelicans are a below .500 team without the Kentucky product in the lineup. The fact that they were even an eighth seed in the stacked West should amaze most people.
The real comparison comes to the rest of the league though and Davis comes out on top. He led the whole league in PER this year. Better then both leading MVP candidates Harden and Curry. He also had a lower usage percentage then most of the top ten players and still averaged over 24 points a game. Davis was also in the top five in scoring, top ten in rebounding and led the league in the blocks. Stats like this prove he is a two-way player and a true MVP-caliber player.
When you look at Davis’ resume, he should win the MVP. He is the best power forward in the league. He is far and away the best man on the Pelicans not to mention the catalyst for their postseason berth. Davis was the most efficient player in the league and is arguably the most well-rounded player in the league. Many of players with a PER over 30 during a single season have won MVP. He should win this year, but the truth is, even if he doesn’t, he will be a candidate for the award for years to come.
For individuals, this basketball season may go down as one of the best in history. Here we are in April, season having ended a few days ago, and there are 6 players with legitimate MVP candidacies, whom in any other year may have run away with the title.
Chris Paul had a pretty typical year for him, to the point where now voters expect this out of him rather than recognize his brilliance as the undisputed best pure point guard in the league today. LeBron James did not impress enough on the stat-line, in spite of his 25.3 PPG, 7.4 APG, and 6 PPG. Russell Westbrook only playing 67 games, and many others without Kevin Durant, will cost him a trip to the playoffs and the MVP. Anthony Davis won’t win, even though he lifted the Pelicans into the playoffs for the first time. When Steph Curry is off the floor, Golden State is still a great team.
Yes, James Harden should be the MVP. When I look at value, it is beyond just the stat sheet (although 27.4 points, 7 APG, and 5.7 RPG is nothing to scoff at either). Harden is the only reason that Houston sits as the #2 seed in a stacked Western Conference. With injuries throughout the season to Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverly, Terrence Jones, and Donatas Motiejunas, Harden was forced into shouldering the lead for the Rockets; he responded by leading the league in minutes played all season. Take out Harden, and this team does not come close to making the playoffs, let alone have home court advantage for the first two rounds.
Harden was put into the limelight and had to singularly take on teams for himself, knowing that he had no other weapons to shield him from opposing teams. This especially comes into play on defense, a spot where Harden is known for his struggles in the past. This season, Harden did the beginning of a 180, tying for 5th in the league with 1.9 steals per game. While he will never be recognized as a defensive force, he easily played his part in a weakened defense. Head into the playoffs now with Howard back lurking and Josh Smith on the wings, and Houston’s defense is strong enough to make opposing defenses sweat, especially when they have to outscore the Beard on offense.
If you take the player off the team, how much of a difference would it make? For me, the Rockets are nothing without Harden. He is the most valuable player for their team, by a landslide. The Rockets performed very well against the rest of the league, especially in one of the toughest schedules in basketball (Do you want to play the Spurs, Mavs, and Grizzlies 4 teams a year? I wouldn’t). For that, James Harden should win one of the most competitive and coveted Most Valuable Player awards in history.
I know it is the easy to just say Steph Curry should be the NBA MVP, but he truly earned it. He piloted the Warriors to the top seed in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. This sharp-shooting phenom took the league by storm and should rightfully walk away with the MVP award.
Chris Paul might be the best pure-point guard (and should be the runner-up for the award) but Curry edges in terms of all-around player. He might have only been sixth in scoring but he was also sixth in assists per game. Curry is a true marksman, drilling shots from anywhere on the court. He led all point guards in shooting percentage. He finished third from beyond the arc and led the league when it came to shooting from the free throw line. Not to mention, he finished tied third for true shooting percentage and second in effective field goal percentage. Curry is the most lethal shooter in the NBA, making him invaluable to any team.
Defensively, Curry showed he could mix it up with anyone as well. He ranked fourth in the league with two steals per game. He vastly improved his pick and roll defense this year preventing big men from rolling to the basket and not allowing guards to drive as easily. He upped his perimeter defense as well. There is still plenty of room for Curry to improve on the defensive side of the ball but he definitely has reached the level of being a great two-way player. Anthony Davis was the only player other than Curry to rank in the top 15 for offensive and defensive win shares.
Beyond all of that, Curry is the most important cog in this Golden State machine. Curry played in 80 of the teams’ 82 games this season. The Warriors lost both of those games and neither of those games were against playoff bound teams. When you consider that Golden State only lost 15 games all season that is even more significant. The Warriors need Curry to be an elite team. He has the highest value over replacement rating in the NBA this year. The all-star point guard finished third in the league in total win shares. Breaking that down even further, Curry led the league in win shares per 48 minutes played. Curry earned his team the most win shares per full game played of anyone in the league. Curry might have a great supporting cast but they are nowhere near as effective without their leader.
The man they call the “Baby-Faced Assassin” had an incredible year as the best player on the league’s best team and was the integral part to their success. Curry demonstrated that he not limited to just being an efficient scorer. He can facilitate a team’s offense and provide an impact on defense. Curry’s incredible all-around play should land him his first MVP award, and with the level that he plays at, it might not be his last either.