By Michael Samaha, columnist
With the NBA regular season coming to an end and the playoffs growing near, one last thing has yet to be decided: who should and will win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. It seems the public has come to a general consensus that it belongs to Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, but I’m going to make arguments for other players.
In no way do I mean to discredit what Curry has done this season – he has had an outstanding season and deserves to be in the conversation as much as any other player. He is the best player on this year’s best team. Golden State has run through the regular season and clinched the league’s best record at 66-15. Curry is sixth in the league in both points and assists per game, while also sitting out at the ends of most games due to his team’s large leads. He also once again broke the record for most 3-point field goals made in a single season. My only argument against Curry is that he is also surrounded by more good players than most of the other guys worth considering. His teammate guard Klay Thompson was an All-Star this season, and there were other players who would’ve received more attention as top players had they been on other teams.
The boring pick is Cavaliers forward LeBron James. The guy has too many MVP awards as it is and fans are just ready to move on to the next thing. How can he be overlooked, though? He is averaging 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game. Cleveland is 50-19 when he’s played, and 2-10 without him. If that isn’t the definition of value to a team, then I don’t know what is. He is still the best player in the NBA and 95 percent of the league would still pick him to lead their team for this season. Every story line has already been written and played out with him, however, so nobody wants to hear or talk about him anymore.
Other players who deserve to be mentioned in the MVP race are Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Clippers guard Chris Paul and Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. Westbrook has been an absolute monster on the court since returning from injury and being forced to carry a lackluster Thunder roster – former MVP forward Kevin Durant was gone for the majority of the season. It’s just too hard to pick a guy whose team is struggling to even make the playoffs. Paul kept the Clippers afloat atop the Western Conference standings, even when fellow superstar forward Blake Griffin was missing a plethora of games, something that is not easy to do in such a strong conference with such a weak roster. I mention Davis more as an honorable mention – this guy has to get some love. When healthy, he looks like the guy starting the climb to a Hall of Fame career. Not only that, but he’s lead his team to a spot above Westbrook’s to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. He’s averaging more than 25 points, 10 rebounds and almost three blocks per game.
There’s one player left who truly deserves the award: Houston Rockets guard James Harden. He is second in the league in scoring and second in assists and has single-handedly kept his team in the fight for home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Rockets have been without star center Dwight Howard for most of the season, and Harden picked up the slack and made sure his team didn’t skip a beat. He’s played as well as Curry, Harden and Westbrook – the only difference is that he has been the sole reason his team has been as good as they are, while keeping his team at the top of the league. No other player can say they’ve done that for their team. To me, that is the definition of valuable. Harden deserves to be named the NBA’s MVP. If not, it may be time to name the league’s first co-MVP to ensure he gets the recognition.
-Michael Samaha can be reached at Sports@HuntNewsNU.com.