NBA MVP: A Three-Man Race?
League MVP: A Three-Man Race?
Now that we've gotten a small sample of what is to be during the 2013-14 NBA season, we can finally make a more educated guess on who will walk away with awards. Particularly the league's coveted MVP award.
LeBron James has been the association's "Alpha Dog" in recent years, winning three consecutive Most Valuable Player awards (as well as two straight Championships), and has forever RSVP'd his place in NBA history.
Of course, there are other names on the ballot for league MVP, and although nothing is certain in a game that is always changing, a few scenarios tend to play out relatively the same way each season. What I mean by that is, guys like Kevin Durant and Chris Paul continue to be two of the best players in the league, today. Alongside LeBron James, they make up the NBA's top three players in the minds of most.
Not to say that other top-notch players such as James Harden, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, etc, don't get recognition when it comes to who is the best of the best. I'm simply implying that in most cases, among most circles, only three players are constant fixtures in this race.
Now, you may be saying that Kobe Bryant is always in the mix, and this is true, but Kobe is fighting that terrible Achilles injury, and I'm not even convinced he can return to play at 80% this season, let alone compete for MVP. Derrick Rose is another name that I'm sure to hear about after this column runs, and I can counter that claim by stating that Rose did win the the award once, but sat out all of last season, and continues to struggle thus far this season. While Rose is incredible, I simply don't think this is his year to leap back into serious contention.
The thing that's important to keep in mind in terms of Durant, LeBron and CP3 is that each of these three players have the physical tools to win this award, and they all play for elite-level teams. Playing on a contender is as important as having the physical stats. You can score 30 points per game all you'd like, but if you play for the Boston Celtics, nobody will be discussing your name when it comes time to vote.
My preseason pick was the reigning champ, LeBron James. I picked King James for obvious reasons. A) I believe that LeBron is the league's best player. B) The Heat will win 60+ games this season. James is already averaging 25.6 points, 8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game this season, and while the Heat have hit a couple of minor hiccups on their way to a 3-2 start, I firmly believe they'll right this ship and start to look like true contenders over the course of the next two or three weeks.
Kevin Durant, who I feel will wind up finishing second to LeBron in the race for MVP, finally caught a BIG break, in the form of teammate, Russell Westbrook, coming back after just a few games. Durant's numbers would have probably ballooned like crazy with Westbrook out for six to eight weeks, but having Russ Wess back at his side is ultimately to Durant's advantage in this race.
Remember, KD will need to boast a winning record if he's to beat-out these other guys for Most Valuable Player award. Right now, Durant is averaging 29.3 points, 1 assist, and 6.7 rebounds per game. Aside from the one dime per outing, Durant was already starting to make his case for MVP. Look for his assists to rise now that Westbrook is back. Kevin will get his help, and not have to look to score on every play.
Finishing third in this year's voting, I have Chris Paul. CP3 is actually the guy I have leading this race right now. I've fielded many questions about Chris over the past week or so, and I always answer the same way. No, I am not shocked at all by the numbers he's putting up. Don't be surprised if Paul records his best season as a pro. My reasoning is simple. Paul has always had the ability to score at will. He's just mentally not that type of player. He's a true point guard.
CP3 gets off on passing the rock and being a play maker. Doc Rivers is a smart head coach, and has obviously told Chris Paul to take over games when need be. You can also hang some of Paul's success on the players around him. Additions like J.J. Reddick and Jared Dudley have helped the Clippers spread the floor, and have ultimately opened up the game for Paul to explode in multiple different ways. He looks aggressive early on, and while I don't expect him to keep these bloated numbers all season long, I do expect a big turn-around from last season. CP3 is currently averaging 26.5 points, 13.3 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per contest, and aside from a fluke of a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on opening night, the Clippers have been exceptional this season.
Again, I suspect guys like James Harden and Kevin Love to keep this race within arm's reach all season. So long as both clubs can keep up their winning way, these guys will stay in the chase. But when it's all said and done, I predict Durant, James and Paul will easily be the top three players at the end. These three spectacular players are on a different level.
Photo Credit- WENN
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