There are only a handful of NBA MVP candidates each year. The first month of the season we will see all these MVP lists but by the All-Star break half of those guys will fall off the list. Remember that wins count in the MVP process and the writers enjoy a good story. The MVP will have to be on a 50-win team and probably a top 3 seed.
This will be a short list for me. All of the Warriors will split votes so I don’t see any of them winning the award. The writers probably won’t vote for Kevin Durant either, he’ll probably get the same treatment LeBron got when he went to Miami.
Russell Westbrook will have an amazing season but I don’t think the Thunder will win enough games. 41 wins was good enough to make the 8th seed last year out West. I don’t think that will be the case this season and I don’t see the Thunder winning 50+ games.
James Harden falls into the same category as Westbrook. The Rockets will be great on offense especially with Harden at point guard. He might average 27 and 10 but the team is so bad on defense I think they will lose a lot of close games and just miss winning 50 games.
This list is in no particular order but these are my MVP candidates:
Kawhi Leonard – He has gotten better each season. He’s already the best defender in the league and has won that award the last two seasons. His 3pt shooting percentage rose from 34% to 44%. The Spurs won a franchise record 67 games last season but now they will be without Tim Duncan. That is the story right there for Kawhi. If he can lead the Spurs to another 50-win season while becoming a better playmaker, he can win his first MVP award.
LeBron James – He will always be in the conversation. His first season back in Cleveland snapped a five-year streak of shooting above 50% from the field. Last season he was back at 52%. I think LeBron will go back to being more efficient, that includes shooting a better percentage from beyond the arc. His scoring might stay around 25, 26 points per game but I can see his rebounding and assists going up. He will allow Kyrie to score more and he will continue to get Kevin Love involved in the game. Cleveland will easily win 50 games and be a top 2 seed in the East.
Blake Griffin – Before he got hurt he was on pace to put up career numbers. If the Clippers stagger Chris Paul and Blake, meaning they let Blake play more with the second unit then his assists numbers will increase. Blake is a great playmaker and passer which he showed when Chris Paul missed time two seasons ago. He is now stepping out to the 3-point line and shooting it with confidence. If healthy the Clippers will again improve on their franchise record of wins in a season. This team can win 60 games this season.