NBA Midseason: 5 MVP Candidates Ranked
The NBA is one of the more interesting professional leagues in sports. Despite the undeniable talent of the players, it’s impossible to overlook the disparity among teams. For as we get closer and closer to the 2016 All-Star Game, you get the sense that only a few teams have a legitimate chance at winning this year’s title. And in a way, the same can be said for the game’s top individual honor.
The National Basketball Association is littered with skilled and, more importantly, recognizable athletes. Unfortunately, those attributes aren’t always enough to help players garner support come award season. While there’s still tons of ball left to be played this 2015-16 season, at the halfway point of the year, the cream has most certainly risen to the top. Therefore, with that in mind, here’s a look at the top five players in our midseason NBA MVP rankings.
5. Kevin Durant
After an injury-plagued 2014-15 campaign, Kevin Durant has returned this season and done nothing but remind the rest of the NBA that he is one of the best in the business. In 39 games, KD is shooting 50.7% from the field, 38.2% from three, and knocking down 88.6% of his free throws, while averaging 26.9 points (fourth in the NBA) and 7.8 rebounds per game. More importantly, however, the Oklahoma City Thunder sit atop the Northwest Division with a 33-13 mark, good enough for the third-best record in the Western Conference. The Durantula probably won’t earn his second career MVP award this season. However, thanks to stellar first half to the 2015-16 season, he has at least earned the consideration.
4. Draymond Green
With each passing game, Draymond Green (pictured above) reminds folks that not only is he one of the most valuable players on the Golden State Warriors, he is also one of the most valuable players in the entire NBA. Green’s 2015-16 averages — 14.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks — showcase an individual with immense versatility who has the ability to affect the game on both ends of the floor. Of course, if that’s not enough to sell Green as a viable MVP candidate, how about the fact that he leads the league in triple-doubles with eight already this season? Yeah, we thought that might work.
3. LeBron James
As great as our expectations are for LeBron James, they pale in comparison to the ones he sets for himself. Yet, even if he fails to live up to either of them, what he is able to do on the basketball court is still utterly ridiculous.
Through the first half of this season, on his way to leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the best record (30-12) in the Eastern Conference, James is averaging 25.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per contest, while connecting on almost 50% — 49.9%, to be exact — of his shots from the field. James may fall short of taking home the fifth MVP trophy of his career, but as far as NBA royalty is concerned, we think the King has got some time before he is forced to relinquish his crown.
2. Kawhi Leonard
After a breakout 2014-15 season, we no had no problem dubbing Kawhi Leonard (above left) the “man in San Antonio.” He earned the title. Little did we know, however, that he was just getting started. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, now in his fifth season in the league, does not have the flashiest numbers — 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals. Yet, these are hardly a reflection of how important Leonard has become to the San Antonio Spurs.
Thanks in large part to his massive wingspan and his crazy big hands, the superstar small forward can guard any position on the floor and may very well be the most well-rounded player in the National Basketball Association. Throw in the fact that Leonard has improved dramatically on the offensive end of the floor, which now includes shooting 50.2% from the field and 47.8% from beyond the arc, and it’s easy to see why you can’t have an NBA MVP discussion and not include No. 2 on the San Antonio Spurs.
1. Stephen Curry
Considering how difficult it is to repeat as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, we thought long and hard about keeping Stephen Curry out of the top spot. However, let’s be real, the Chef’s cooking was simply too good to ignore.
In 42 contests, Curry is hitting 51.0% of his shots, including an absurd 45.1% from three, and is leading the league in scoring with 30.1 points per game. He’s pulling down 5.4 rebounds a night, to go along with 6.6 assists a game. With the Golden State Warriors holding the best record (40-4) in the NBA through the first half of the 2015-16 season, and the Baby-Faced Assassin heading the charge, we can’t help but dub (no pun intended) Curry the NBA’s midseason MVP.
Statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, ESPN.go.com, and NBA.com.