Today, we turn our attention to the grand-daddy of them all: NBA MVP!
In just over a month the NBA playoffs begin, and even though teams have played three-quarters of their games, the race for league MVP is only getting less clear as the season winds down. In fact, what once seemed like a runaway for Warriors star Stephen Curry is now too close to call.
Curry, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, and the Rockets’ James Harden all have great arguments for why they should be crowned MVP. And don’t count out LeBron James either.
2015 NBA MVP Odds:
Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors): 11/10
Curry is 11/10 to take the award right now. He’s the best player on what has been the best team in the league right from the opening tipoff of the season. One of the top scoring point guards in league history, Curry is fifth in the NBA in scoring, number one in three-pointers made per game, ninth in three-point percentage, and sixth in assists per game. His defense has improved to the point that he leads the association in steals, and he has helped the Warriors to a 27-2 mark at home.
The argument against Curry is that he’s surrounded by many very good (if not great) players, like Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut, and David Lee. That said, when Curry was forced to sit out a game against Indiana, the Warriors lost 104-98 and looked like a completely different team.
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder): 11/10
Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant has been out for more than half the season, yet the Thunder are currently occupying the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference (and are still climbing). The reason? Westbrook has been an absolute beast. Like Curry, he is 11/10 to be named MVP.
After a sensational week of basketball, Westbrook is now leading the NBA in points per game, is second in steals, ranks fourth in assists, and, despite his 6’3” stature, is 40th in the league in rebounding (and tops among point guards at 7.1 per contest). What makes his recent hot streak look all the more MVP-worthy is the fact that he’s done it with a broken face.
If OKC makes the playoffs, they will have Westbrook to thank – and possibly Curry to face in the opening round.
James Harden (Houston Rockets): 3/1
Harden, a former teammate of Westbrook with the Thunder, had been leading the league in scoring for the majority of the season, and he is still second (only 0.3 points behind Westbrook). The Arizona State product is also fifth in three pointers, sixth in steals, and ninth in assists.
Like Westbrook, Harden has shouldered a huge load this season due to injuries – in particular to center Dwight Howard – and he’s logged the third most minutes in the NBA. Despite missing defensive lynchpin Howard, the Rockets have the fourth-best record in the league. Take away Harden and Houston is not likely to be a playoff team. The Bearded Wonder is 3/1 to earn the MVP.
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers): 15/2
And then there is the Cavs’ LeBron James. A four-time MVP recipient, only Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell have won more trophies than LeBron. James has missed 11 games this season, and Cleveland is 2-9 in those contests. When he’s around, they win at a rate that would make them one of the four best teams in the league.
LeBron is third in the NBA in scoring at 26 PPG, and has put up that number while shooting a much higher percentage than Westbrook or Harden. James is also seventh in the NBA in assists, and tops among all forwards. He adds nearly six rebounds a game, and Las Vegas has Cleveland as the second betting choice to win the NBA Title. LeBron probably won’t win the MVP this year, though he might be the most important player. He’s 15/2 to earn the hardware.
Full 2014-15 NBA MVP Odds:
- Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors): 11/10
- Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder): 11/10
- James Harden (Houston Rockets): 3/1
- LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers): 15/2
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flirckr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)