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Top 5 NBA MVP Candidates

James Brennan, Sports Editor

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The NBA Most Valuable Player race has never been closer. With some top tier guards and a pair of forwards in the mix, even with only a few games left, the race isn’t over.

Let’s take a look at what James Brennan’s ballot would look like.

Honorable Mention: John Wall

Anytime you hear conversations about the best point guards in the NBA you’ll hear Russell  Westbrook, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, etc.  Then people will talk about how a guy like Damian Lillard is always overlooked.  Yet it is rare that John Wall’s name never comes to mind even though he puts up better overall numbers than half of these guys.

Wall is averaging 23 points a game with 11 assists on top of that.  He also has well over 100 fewer turnovers than James Harden, one of the favorites to win MVP.  With the Wizards in 3rd place in the Conference it is close to guaranteed that they will be playing postseason basketball.  You have to at least consider John Wall for this award as he is the driving force of that team.

5: Isaiah Thomas

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to my 8th grade basketball try-out.  I was an average basketball player at best but I thought I had a legitimate chance at making the team that year.  That dream was shot down in the blink of an eye when I was told that 4-foot-9 was too short to play middle school basketball.  I was rattled to the core.

Fast forward 8 years and I proudly wear an Isaiah Thomas jersey because he proved that the little guys can play too.  Standing at a generous 5-foot-9 and weighing 185 pounds soaking wet, this guy is fearless.

He’s averaging a whopping 29 points per game and he’s doing it in many ways.  He can hit a step back 3 against KyrieIrving on one play and then drive to the hole against LeBron on the next.  It isn’t easy sharing your name with a Hall of Famer, but Isaiah Thomas is showing people that he’s an elite player.

4: Kawhi Leonard

After Tim Duncan decided to call it quits after last season I’m sure everyone was thinking the same thing: we need another emotionless guy to dominate the NBA for the next decade and keep up the Spurs reputation as the most dominant, dull team on the face of the Earth.

Enter Kawhi Leonard (Nice pick, Coach Popovich).  Almost like clockwork, Kawhi took the reigns from Duncan as the face of the Spurs and they are as strong as ever.  His offensive skills are some of the league’s best as he averages 26 points per game.

Although his offensive game has taken major strides, it’s his defensive skills though that turn heads.  Put him on a quick point guard, an athletic forward or an overpowering center.  He can cover them all.  Kawhi has turned his game up a notch this season and it has put him in the MVP race.

3: LeBron James

And for the 523rd season in a row (or so it seems), LeBron James is being considered for the MVP award.

From sports radio host Colin Cowherd to teammate J.R. Smith, have said James should win the MVP award every single year.  As crazy as it may sound, they have a valid point.  It seems like nearly a lifetime ago when James made his “decision” to join the Miami Heat and leave the Cavs.  Since then, he has come back to Cleveland, but he has kept one thing consistent during that time: every June he is playing in the NBA Finals.  He has had six straight finals appearences and I’m sure he has plans to keep that streak going.

He is averaging 26 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists per game this year.  James really is one of the most consistent players the NBA has ever seen. The scary thing is a drop off is nowhere in sight.

2: James Harden

If James Harden was the 12th man on the bench averaging 1.3 points per game he would still be a fan favorite due to his majestic beard.  It’s just an added bonus that he is easily a top 3 player in the world.

Harden has had many critics over the years who like to acknowledge how he’s not a team player and doesn’t play strong defense. Some even saying that a team can’t win with his style of play.  None of this fazed Harden.  He just kept playing his game and trusted himself.

Now, the Rockets have already clinched a playoff berth and Harden is having the best year of his career.  He is averaging a near triple-double with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists per game.  Everyone knew that the Rockets were going all in on Harden when they let Dwight Howard walk this past summer.  He has proved them right and has become a real leader for that team. Plus, the beard!

1: Russell Westbrook

Take the skill set of Allen Iverson, add 3 or 4 inches, and then give him the body frame of Karl Malone.  That is essentially what has been unlocked with Russell Westbrook.

After the devastating summer break-up with his “soulmate” Kevin Durant, many people wondered how Westbrook would be able to play this season.  After a few lonely walks around the park, a couple of gallons of rocky road ice cream, and many showings of “Titanic”, Westbrook was coming back with a vengeance.

How do you do better than Harden almost averaging a triple-double? You actually average a triple-double.  Westbrook has 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game this season.  He is the sole reason the Thunder are currently in a playoff spot and people are taking note.  For as spectacular as all of the previously mentioned players have been this season, it’s going to be pretty hard to justify not voting for a person that averages a triple-double.

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William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper
Top 5 NBA MVP Candidates