The 2016-17 NBA season is finally underway and I am excited to see what teams got better and what teams are just plain trash. But for the sake of this blog post, I want to talk about the five players, thus far, that are destined to hoist up the MVP trophy and earn “regular season” bragging rights in the association. Since the season is still in its premature phase, the list of potential MVP candidates can and will most likely be adjusted later. Let’s just skip to the good stuff and reveal my top 5 candidates (in order):
- Kawhi Leonard– Leonard is an absolute stud that has the most even-keeled attitude I have ever witnessed; that’s what I like most about him. This man has truly taken the reigns as leader of a Western-Conference-Finals bound juggernaut. And, right now, he’s a juggernaut himself averaging 28 PPG, 4 RPG, and just about 4 APG. He can do it all and with Greg Poppovich grooming him and the offseason training he did with Kobe Bryant, the sky’s the limit for this “silent but deadly” assassin.
- Kevin Durant– As much as I despise the decision that Durant made to leave the Thunder to go to an already overpowered Warriors team, I cannot deny the fact of how multi-faceted, talented, and scary Durant is as a near 7-foot guard-forward. It seems as though he is determined to prove to all the doubters wrong. I was watching the Thunder-Warriors game on TNT Thursday night and KD went off for 39 points and drained 7 three-pointers as the Warriors went on to smack the Thunder 122-96. As I continued to watch the game, Thunder players were trying to talk smack to KD and it only made matters worse. I can recall my friend telling me, “You don’t want to wake up a beast like KD.” If KD can unleash his inner beast and outshine his teammate and 2016 unanimous MVP Steph Curry, then the MVP trophy is his to lose.
- Russell Westbrook– The Thunder is a team that is definitely in a rebuilding phase right now and I’m certain that they will not make the playoffs this year; and the league tends to give the award to the best player on the best/winning team. However, no one can deny greatness and that is exactly what Westbrook personifies. Kobe once said to a reporter that, intensity-wise, Westbrook was the only player that he could compare himself to. In his own words Kobe said, “[Westbrook] plays with a rage that’s not very common.” If Westbrook receives credit from one of the greatest of all time, then that is a testament to how destined he is to win this prestigious award. As of right now, Westbrook is averaging a triple double: 34 PPG, 10 RPG, and 10 APG. The last legend to do that… Oscar “The Big O” Robertson.
- Kyrie Irving– We all saw Game 7 of the NBA Finals and how Irving terrorized the Warriors defense. Oh yeah and how he drained a game-defining trey ball in Steph’s eye. Irving also played a critical role in getting Team USA a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Irving is slowly but surely making a case for the best PG in the association as of late and shows no signs of slowing down. After a game [this season] where Irving scored 32 points on the Wizards, LeBron mentioned that Irving “is the best point guard in the league.” This man is a match-up nightmare and with LeBron feeding him knowledge to give him a mental edge over his opponents, Irving is bound to be a big problem. As of right now, Irving is averaging 27 PPG with 4 APG while shooting 47% from the field and 53% from the three-point line.
- LeBron James- When has LeBron not been a candidate for this award? I’ll wait…. LeBron has been taking the league by storm since he was 18-years old. And as of late, LeBron is averaging 22 PPG, 9 RPG, and 10 APG. If you want to talk about complete domination, LeBron is the epitome of dominion. LeBron just came off a 2016 championship season where, in the Finals, he led all players in all five categories (PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, and BPG). LeBron has the ability to run away from the MVP trophy just like anyone else on this list. But its his choice if he wants to continue to play a high volume of minutes in order to have a legitimate chance of winning MVP or decrease his playing time to reserve himself for the postseason and go after another NBA championship.