What is an MVP?
We’ve had the debate a hundred times. We’ll have it 100 more. And it may never be settled. But with the end of the NBA regular season upon us and the MVP debate heating up, we are once again called to the watercooler or thieving office vending machine to discuss that finer points of what “Most Valuable Player” actually means.
Let’s look at the cast of characters.
Anthony Davis: alias “Unibrow”- Young big man emerging as truly elite talent in the talent-jammed west. He is a physical freak with the work ethic to take his natural talent to unreal levels. He has the Pelicans within a win of the playoffs, and is a metrics dream. This is not his year, but Unibrow will be an MVP before his career is done.
Russel Westbrook: alias “Ninja Turtle” – The Thunder are battling down to the wire for playoff inclusion, and the only reason for that is Russ. Two-months of double-doubles, compensating for the loss of last year’s MVP, and somehow finding a way not to hate Enes Kanter is an impressive juggling act, but not enough to win MVP honors. Sorry Rafael, or Michelangelo or whichever TMNT you most identify with…
Lebron James: alias “the King”. His teammate J.R. Smith says he’s the MVP every year. It’s probably not a huge stretch, but that little thing called “voter fatigue” (*better explained as “we’re sick of Lebron winning everything”) means he won’t get it this year. Maybe if he got along better with Kevin Love… But you can’t ask too much of just one man right?
James Harden: alias “The Beard” His numbers say he is a worthy candidate. His graduation from OKC role-player a few years ago to feature man on the Western 5 seed is a nice story. His ability to overcome the absence of important teammates for significant stretches this season (see Dwight Howard missing 40 games) has a lot of folks believing that Harden is THE guy. Purists might hate his lack of defensive skill (effort) but he has taken over as many games this year as anybody in the NBA, and the Rockets will see just how effective that can be during a first-round playoff series where a lot of folks have them exiting.
Steph Curry: alias “Splash Brother #1” Whether he wins the MVP award or not, Steph Curry is the story of the season. He is the best player on the best team in the NBA. He makes his teammates better, has the smoothest handles in the game right now, is clearly the best shooter in the NBA, and looks poised to keep breaking his own records for 3-pointers made season after season. The supposed knock on Curry is that he doesn’t do it all by himself. His teammates are great, his coach is a favorite for COY, and Oracle Arena is the best home-court advantage in the NBA. The fact that any of these factors work AGAINST Curry is insane. Without him the Warriors can certainly win, but they wouldn’t be the best team in the league. He is the catalyst that turns a good team into a great team. Maybe a great team into a championship team.
For me, the debate starts and ends with Steph Curry. I wouldn’t have a hard time crowning him as a voter. Harden and Lebron certainly deserve credit for what they have done this season. But the MVP in 2014-2015 is Steph Curry, and nobody else.