This year’s MVP race is the best it has been a long time. There are five names that come up when we talk about the MVP award; Steph Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis.
The best player in the NBA is still LeBron James, the Cavs are bad without him but he took time off this season. Anthony Davis has been great all year but his team is fighting for an 8th seed. Russell Westbrook has missed games, leads the league in scoring and has 10 triple-doubles this season. He has five triple-doubles in March alone which would lead the league but he is fighting for an 8th seed.
James Harden is 2nd in the league in scoring, the Rockets have played without Dwight Howard for the majority of the season and Harden has led them to 46 wins. Steph Curry averages 23 ppg, leads the NBA in made 3 pointers and is on the best team in basketball.
With that said should the NBA create another award? The MVP does not always go to the best player of the season. It usually goes to the best player on the best team. Right now Curry is that player.
I looked at MVP award winners since the 2000-01 season and their team records compared to the rest of the league. Allen Iverson won the award that year and his team won 56 games. That was good enough for first in the Eastern Conference but the San Antonio Spurs had the best record with 58 wins.
Tim Duncan won the award the next two seasons. During the 2001-02 the Sacramento Kings had the best record in basketball with 61 wins. The Spurs were second with 58 wins. Duncan was great averaging 25 ppg and 12 rpg but Chris Webber was also very good that year averaging 24 ppg and 10 rpg. However he only played in 54 games and finished 7th in MVP voting.
During the 2003-04 season Kevin Garnett dominated and led the Wolves to 58 wins. The Indiana Pacers had 61 wins but they did not have a true superstar that year.
Steve Nash was next to win back-to-back MVPs. During the 2004-05 season he led the Phoenix Suns to an NBA best 62 wins that season. He averaged a double-double, 15 ppg and 11.5 apg. People questioned if Nash should have won the award because Shaquille O’Neal was having a great season in Miami.
Shaq averaged 22 ppg, 10 rpg, 2 blkpg and shot 60% from the field as he helped lead the East to an Eastern Conference best 59 wins. Shaq would finish 2nd to Nash in voting and that would be the last season that Shaq averaged a double-double.
The following season Nash got the MVP again but this time the Suns only won 54 games. The Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs won 60+ games each but neither team had a dominate superstar. Duncan averaged 18 and 11 that season.
Kobe Bryant was a mad man that season as he led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 7th seed after missing the playoffs the previous season. He led the league in scoring with 35.4 ppg and he scored 2,832 points that season while still averaging over 4 assists per game. So why did Nash win the MVP again?
Well the Suns still led the NBA in pace and points per game. They won their division and they did all this without Amar’e Stoudemire. For those of you that forgot how good Stoudemire was he averaged 26 ppg, 9 rpg on 55% shooting during the 2004-05 season. Stoudemire only played in three games the following season. Nash increased his scoring slightly and still averaged 10 assists and won another MVP.
Kobe had a strong case that season and would finish 4th in the voting. Kobe wasn’t the most valuable but he was the most impressive player that season.
Dirk Nowitzki captured the MVP award in 2006-07 after leading the Mavs to an NBA best 67 wins. Dirk was great that year and the Mavericks were by far the best regular season team. After getting Stoudemire back Steve Nash led the Suns to 61 wins and finished 2nd in the voting. Kobe Bryant averaged 31, 5 and 5 and finished 3rd in the voting.
Kobe Bryant captured his only MVP award during the 2007-08 season because the Lakers were the best Western Conference team. The Boston Celtics won 66 games but they were a balanced team.
The 2008-09 season should have been another great MVP debate. However LeBron James dominated the voting and easily won the award. Let’s look back at that season. The Cavaliers won an NBA best 66 games. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers won 65 games and Dwight Howard led the Magic to 59 wins. Dwyane Wade led a poorly constructed Heat team to 43 wins.
Kobe finished 2nd, Wade 3rd and Howard 4th in voting. Kobe averaged 26, 5 and 4. Wade led the league with 30 ppg but also averaged 5 rpg and 7.5 apg. Howard averaged 20, 13 and 3 blks on 57% shooting. LeBron averaged 28, 7 and 7. They all had great seasons but Wade deserved something for his effort.
LeBron would win it again by having the best record. When he joined the Heat for the 2010-11 season he still averaged 26, 7 and 7 but Derrick Rose won the award after averaging 24, 4 and 7 while leading the Chicago Bulls to 62 wins.
LeBron would win it again by having the best record. Kevin Durant won the award last year because he led his team to 59 wins and that was better than LeBron’s 54 win Heat team. The Spurs won 62 but again they were a balanced team.
LeBron even said, “We had too many up & down stretches throughout the season, and if my team’s not winning, then I shouldn’t be the MVP.”
Again this season there are many candidates but there will only be one winner. Someone will also be left off the All-NBA 1st team because you must have two guards, two forwards and a center. Curry, Harden and Westbrook are all guards in the West.
So should the NBA create an award for dominate players? Making the playoffs should be a requirement but it could go to someone who plays great but doesn’t lead their team to the best record in a conference.