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Most Valuable Player
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – There is a notion that Stephen Curry shouldn’t win the MVP award because his teammates are too good. No, really, this is a thing. Curry’s squad is indeed loaded, but everything runs through the sharp-shooting guard, and that is evidenced by the fact that Golden State is 17.7 points per 100 possessions better than he is on the court. You read that number right. Curry is the best shooter in the league given his ability to get his shot off from any angle, he is an elite passer and he is even an above-average defender at this stage of his career. The Warriors are going to run away with the best record in the NBA, and their best player also happens to be the MVP.
- James Harden, Houston Rockets – I can’t emphasize this strongly enough. James Harden has played at an MVP level this season. Houston’s star guard is second in the league in scoring (27.2 points per game), but beyond that, he is a highly underrated distributor (7.0 assists per game) who has made significant strides defensively in 2014-2015. The Rockets are an incredible 25-13 without Dwight Howard this season, and that is directly linked to Harden’s immense greatness. He leads the NBA in both win shares and WAR (per ESPN) and he is a more than reasonable choice for MVP at this stage. I’ll take Curry, but I won’t argue with you.
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder – I’m taking the plunge. Yes, I believe that Anthony Davis is neck-and-neck with Westbrook at this stage, but Westbrook’s ability to keep OKC in the race with a one-man show has been awe-inspiring. Russell Westbrook leads the NBA in scoring (27.2 points per game) while averaging 8.7 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game, and the point guard has managed to keep the Thunder afloat with a 22-21 record in the absence of Kevin Durant. There is still a statistical case to be made for Davis, who leads the league in PER and blocks while sitting above Westbrook in a handful of advanced metrics, but as long as the Thunder are comfortably ahead of the Pelicans as Durant and Serge Ibaka sit, Westbrook will get more love in this space. He’s been that good.