DAR Sports: The NBA MVP Ladder

By @TrueGodImmortal

The MVP race is set for most people, and their choice is clear.... but is it really? While many people have their minds made up, for me, I think the MVP ladder is a little more advanced than what most people want it to be and that's fine. There are so many choices this season that you could make a legit case for and I think we all know who the favorite is, but what about the other possible choices? Are there any other choices? Who takes what spot on the MVP ladder? Today, we will rank and list the top 9 MVP candidates this season. Let's get into it.

9. Victor Oladipo
(Indiana Pacers)

-Honestly, I think Oladipo could be a true candidate for MVP, but he doesn't fit the NBA narrative. He will likely get more consideration for the Most Improved Player, but he definitely should get discussed as MVP as well. The Pacers have just moved into the third seed in the crowded East, and it is mostly due to his play. He is an amazing leader for the Pacers, and with the possibility of taking the third seed into the playoffs is a real thing, he needs his name mentioned in lights. He would be voted in as an All Star this year, making his campaign even stronger and his numbers are outrageous (23.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2.2 SPG). Oladipo gets it done for Indiana and because of that, he should definitely be on the MVP ladder.

8. Kyrie Irving
(Boston Celtics)

-I don't understand how Kyrie isn't mentioned more for MVP. If it wasn't for the fact that his stats aren't extremely eye popping, I would say he is my front runner. That's because Kyrie has shined so bright in his new role as the no. 1 option on the Celtics that he's made himself a true leader and showcased that perhaps he was ready for this position all along. His efficiency this season is what really stands out, as he's shooting 49/41/89, which is one of his best overall seasons (along with averaging 24.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.1 APG) and leading the Boston Celtics to what seems like the no. 2 seed in the East for sure. The Celtics will definitely win 50 games this season again, and maybe 55, which is due to Kyrie being the no. 1 option and leading them there. If only he would have slightly higher stats, he would be top 3, but the fact that Kyrie does this all while playing less than 32 minutes a game shows exactly why he is on my ladder.

7. LeBron James
(Cleveland Cavaliers)

-LeBron is a legend. He is one of the greatest ever. That is not to be disputed. He is one of the most consistent players of all time. However, his consistency doesn't always include playing defense, which is where his decline has come. LeBron takes off possessions and has admittedly played below his standard for extra periods this season, so he isn't even top 5 in the MVP discussion this year. As the Cavs begin to struggle, or rather, continue their yearly struggles in the regular season, LeBron has managed to play to a high level offensively and rack up those stats. That's what he does most effectively in this era and he is having quite the offensive season. His season averages are amazing (26.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 9.0 APG) and he's shooting pretty efficiently overall for the most part. He is playing a lot of minutes in the regular season, but it helps his team and that's why Bron is on this list. Every year Bron is in the consideration for MVP, but this year he doesn't have the legit argument to make him top 5 like he usually is. If the Cavs were a little bit better, then LeBron would crack the top 5. Still, he deserves mention.

6. Kevin Durant
(Golden State Warriors)

-Watching KD struggle is odd at times. He is the most gifted player on the court and quite possibly the best player today, but yet..... when Steph Curry is not on the floor, the Warriors look like an entirely different team. They are better defensively in a way, but offensively not the same. They can grind out games and wins, but also struggle. Still, KD is having a great year (26.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.9 BPG while shooting 52/44/89) that under any other circumstance would have him in the top 5, maybe even top 3. Still, Durant shows that when he's on, he is one of the most unstoppable players in the world and he will always be a MVP candidate as long as he plays on the best team in the world. However, the Warriors and their small struggles are what knock KD down the ladder a little bit and lifts his teammate slightly higher than him. I'll get to that in a minute.

5. Damian Lillard
(Portland Trailblazers)

-The Blazers seem to be on the path to taking the 3rd seed. This would be amazing in so many ways. They have been playing their best basketball for the most part, and the biggest reason for that has to be Dame Lillard. He has been the most clutch player this year, taking over down the stretch and winning games when the rest of his team can't close out opponents. His numbers are very solid and will likely get him All NBA honors (26.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.5 APG while shooting 45/38/91), but what has him in the top 5 this season is the fact that he has the Blazers in the third seed clearly now in this tough Western Conference. That alone earns Dame some MVP points.

4. Stephen Curry
(Golden State Warriors)

-I made the comment that perhaps Steph Curry is the best player in the NBA and while some scoffed at that, I might stick to this claim. There are things that the other top 3 players do better than Steph, and there are things that he does better than them. Steph is a much more efficient shooter than LeBron (in volume) and he's one of the most efficient finishers at the rim.... and he's only 6'3 and barely 200 pounds. That alone is amazing. He is the most devastating force on the court and the most important player in the NBA. His drive and success is the catalyst for five straight 50 win seasons and what will likely be a 4th straight 60 win season for the Golden State Warriors. Despite his ankle injuries piling up a little bit, Steph is still the MVP of the Warriors and with a 50/40/90 season on tap along with great numbers (26.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.6 SPG), Steph shows that despite the Warriors being seen as the best team in the NBA, they are that because he is the true engine behind it. For that alone, one could argue Steph is a top 3 MVP candidate every season and that's accurate. He won't win this season, but he has a much better claim to the award than most would want to admit.

3. Demar Derozan
(Toronto Raptors)

-Yes. It has happened. Demar Derozan is the man in Toronto and the results are showing. The Raptors are the best team in the East and they have one of the top ranked offenses and defenses in the entire NBA. That alone makes Derozan a big candidate, but he does on the court, much like Kyrie and Steph, can't be determined by merely stats. Sure, his numbers are pretty good (23.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.2 SPG), but the way the Raptors play has benefited him the most. This Raptors team could possibly win 60 wins and if they do, then it is very plausible that Derozan could be a top 3 candidate or at least make a last minute run at stealing the award. Will he win? Not likely, but he deserves a ton of consideration.

2. Anthony Davis
(New Orleans Pelicans)

-This is the truth. Anthony Davis is the real MVP this season and if not for the narrative of James Harden, he would be my choice for the runaway winner. The Pelicans don't have half the roster that the Rockets or the Warriors have and yet they are going for the 4th seed in the West amidst a very crowded pack. This is what makes the case for AD so appealing for me. After Demarcus Cousins went down for the rest of the year, AD has managed to carry the Pelicans to a 10 game win streak that catapulted him near the top of the ladder. If the Pelicans can win around 48-50 games this season and finish in the 4th spot, I would have to say AD is the MVP. His supporting cast doesn't include one of the best point guards and one of the best rosters in the league, and yet here they are doing amazing things when led by Davis. His numbers are crazy this year (28.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 2.4 BPG while shooting 54/36/83) and the fact he's had to carry his team is what makes me hope the voters give him the most consideration. The lack of solid weapons on his team and the amount of work he put in this year should show you that losing an All Star and making your team fight is the true mark of a MVP. Anthony Davis is that and any other year he would have the award locked down. 

1. James Harden
(Houston Rockets)

-In terms of advanced stats, there are two MVPs for the Rockets: Chris Paul and James Harden. I fully believe that the Rockets wouldn't be nearly as good as they are this year without Chris Paul and that is what leads me to believe that perhaps the voters and the public are a bit too hasty to call him the runaway MVP. We've seen Harden put up 50 point performances in losing efforts to interior teams and a 60 point triple double to barely beat the worst team in the league, and I understand that stats make a difference, but in terms of true importance, I still feel AD is the clear cut MVP. However, I know the league and the fans feel like Harden has been screwed out of MVP before (he wasn't), and this year is his year. The Rockets will win 60 plus games for sure and could finish with the 1st seed in the West, which is the icing on the cake. His numbers are outrageous this year (31.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 8.8 APG, 1.9 SPG while shooting 45/38/86) and that will be the determining factor in voting. Unless the Pelicans go on a 14 game winning streak or go 15-1 to end their season, the public has decided that Harden is the MVP and I have to agree that this is his year. Whether or not I think the Rockets will win a title is irrelevant, the MVP is a regular season award and over the last few years, there aren't many people as good as Harden in the 82 game campaign. Could AD steal the MVP? Sure, he should actually, but I think it's clear that the 2018 NBA MVP will be James Harden. It's that simple.



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