No. 5 – Kevin Durant, SF Golden State Warriors Before the season, I picked Durant to win MVP as I anticipated him to shoot more efficiently than ever within a beautiful system rather than OKC iso-ball and to play the best defense of his life as he showed great flashes in the 2016 playoffs. And for over 50 games, that’s exactly what happened, and KD was creeping up on Harden and Westbrook to steal the award behind the the record breaking Warriors. But then, as we all know, ZaZa landed on his foot and completely changed the complexion of this season. He get’s number 5 because he was simply too amazing to count out, but you can’t be the most valuable if your value wasn’t on the court for one-third of the season.
No. 4 – LeBron James, SF Cleveland Cavaliers This hurts, it really does. I’ve loved the way LeBron has played on the hardwood this year. He’s turned the Cavs into the super team we knew they could be behind his excellent kick out passing ability. He even has become a lethal shooter at 39.7% 3-point shooting percentage, to the point where you can’t give him space. Think about that!!! LeBron, the most feared rim explosion drive waiting to happen in NBA history. But, he can’t be MVP. And the reason why is another 3 letter acronym: DNP. You can’t be the MVP if you willingly let your team lose games, which the Cavs do every time the King doesn’t suit up. You’re not the most valuable if your value comes with the cost of at least 10 conceded losses. I’m sorry.
No. 3 – Russell Westbrook, PG Oklahoma City Thunder I know, I’m a Westbrook hater. For the positive, Westbrook stats (as everyone knows) are unbelievable and the best in the league. He’s also improved his clutch performance. But here’s why he’s not MVP. Another unbelievable stat, 42% usage percentage. Do you know what that means? It means that when OKC is playing, that Russ has the ball in his hands almost half of the time. Half of the time. I thought basketball was a team game and that it was the point guard’s job to get everyone involved. And don’t even get me started on the myth of how Westbrook’s teammates are the worst in the league. Remember when Steven Adams was the best center on any team in the post-season? Remember when Enes Kanter was the best scoring big man off the bench in the league? Remember when everybody loved the trade that landed Sabonis and Oladipo, two guys that everyone saw had great offensive and maybe even all-star potential? Well, I do. And while the Thunder’s lineup, could be better. I think that if you removed Westbrook from the Thunder roster, this team could still win 35 games for the season, which would mean Russ is worth 10-15 wins. That still makes him a fantastic player, but it’s not enough to be MVP. And don’t even get me started on his defense.
No. 2 – Kawhi Leonard, SF San Antonio Spurs Here’s why Kawhi is ahead of Westbrook: San Antonio has 1 all star, Oklahoma City has 1 all star. San Antonio has 54 wins, Oklahoma City has 40 wins. On that info alone, it would be assumed the San Antonio all star would be better. Of course, Kawhi’s non all star teammates are better than Westbrook’s, and Kawhi plays under an amazing coach with an incredible system. But part of OKC’s flawed system is Russ, he loves to go iso and always have the ball in his hands rather than to embrace modern ball movement styles. On the other hand, Kawhi is the perfect teammate who plays unreal defense, never questions the coach, never snaps at teammates, and is never concerned with stats. Kawhi is just really, really, really freaking good.
No. 1 – James Harden, PG Houston Rockets For a few weeks, I’ve gone back and forth on whether the MVP should be the Beard or the Claw, but after this week, the Beard is running away with it. He’s revolutionized the Rockets and the NBA itself. He’s Steve Nash 2.0, but with improved athleticism and a more dangerous threat of scoring. Last year, the Warriors showed how dominant you can be when you combine great talent with a 3 point shooting system. This year, Harden and the Rockets have shown you can be nearly as great with average talent and a 3 point shooting system. Part of this credit definitely belongs to Coach D’Antoni, but I think he’s just unveiled the true potential Harden’s always had. This week the Beard has thrown up back to back 40 point triple doubles, gotten huge wins, and hit a beautiful fast break game winner to defeat Joker and the Nuggets. He’s just too efficient, too smart, and too good. If he doesn’t win MVP, I might start a riot and never shave again until my beard matches Harden’s. Seriously, Harden better be hoisting that MVP in front of a Houston playoff crowd.