In a post-season that saw 8 All Stars switch teams, and with injuries to some big-name players, the race for MVP and positioning in the All NBA Teams has become quite interesting. With all these new duos likely to decrease usage rates, and with holes in teams meaning players will have to step up, the MVP favourites are going to be interesting to track all season long.
Legend: MPG = minutes per game, PPG = points per game, RPG = rebounds per game, APG = assists per game, SPG = steals per game, BPG = blocks per game, FG = field goal, 3P = three points, FT = free throws, PER = player efficiency rating, WS = win share
#5 – Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Award History: 6 x All Star (2014-19), 3 x All NBA 1st Team (2015, 2017-18), All Defensive 1st Team (2018), 2 x All Defensive 2nd Team (2015, 2017), 3 x NBA Blocks Leader (2014-15, 2018), NBA All-Star Game MVP (2017)
2018-19 Averages: 33.0 mpg, 25.9 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.4 bpg, 51.7% FG, 33.1% 3P, 79.4% FT, 30.3 PER, 9.5 WS
For ages I’ve had AD sitting just outside the Top 5, but with all the hype and a really good pre-season outing, he’s forced my hand. Having come 3rd in both MVP and Defensive Player voting in 2018, I’m not sure why I’m so down on AD this season. There’s just something I can’t put my finger on. Maybe he’ll rest a little and pace himself throughout the season. Could LeBron and Kuzma be a negative influence on his game? I’m just not sure. BUT, AD is a phenomenal player, and maybe he does deserve to sit here before the start of the season.
#4 – Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
Award History: 6 x All Star (2013-14, 2016-19), All NBA 1st Team (2019), 4 x All NBA 3rd Team (2013-14, 2016, 2018), 2 x All Defensive 1st Team (2014, 2019), 2 x All Defensive 2nd Team (2013, 2016), NBA Steals Leader (2019), Most Improved Player (2015), All Rookie 2nd Team (2011)
2018-19 Averages: 36.9 mpg, 28.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 2.2 spg, 0.4 bpg, 43.8% FG, 38.6% 3P, 83.9% FT, 23.3 PER, 11.9 WS
To come 3rd in MVP voting with a walking triple-double and notorious ball-hog as your teammate is an incredible feat. So, to now be teamed up with an equally as elite player, newly crowned champion, and team player, you can expect the same sort of production, if not more. Kawhi might take away a little bit of his scoring, but if anything, he would help PG’s defence. Minutes could also be absorbed by the likes of Williams, Harkless and Harrell, further reducing his impact. Ultimately, if PG can do what he did last season with Westbrook, then he could definitely do the same if not better with Kawhi, especially now that he’s playing in a better market with more spotlight.
#3 – James Harden, Houston Rockets
Award History: MVP (2018), 7 x All Star (2013-19), 5 x All NBA 1st Team (2014-15, 2017-19), All NBA 3rd Team (2013), Sixth Man of the Year (2012), 2 x NBA Scoring Champion (2018-19), NBA Assists Leader (2017), All Rookie 2nd Team (2010)
2018-19 Averages: 36.8 mpg, 36.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 7.5 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.7 bpg, 44.2% FG, 36.8% 3P, 87.9% FT, 30.6 PER, 15.2 WS
James Harden’s recent history is quite compelling. He’s just had the best scoring season since Michael Jordan in 1987. Won MVP in 2018. Garnered 29% of total MVP votes in 2017 and 2019, and had a 39.6% usage rate last season. Some could say he is a one-man-army, and there is no doubting that he will come out again and prove why he is one of, if not the best, offensive player in the league. But how will Westbrook change this? Can Harden average 40+ now that he’ll have to play more off the ball? Or will he average 12+ assists if Russ can improve his jumper? The addition of Westbrook will definitely lower that absurd usage rate, but realistically, no one knows what kind of impact this is going to have.
#2 – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Award History: MVP (2019), 3 x All Star (2017-19), All NBA 1st Team (2019), 2 x All NBA 2nd Team (2017-18), All Defensive 1st Team (2019), All Defensive 2nd Team (2017), Most Improved Player (2017), All Rookie 2nd Team (2014)
2018-19 Averages: 32.8 mpg, 27.7 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.5 bpg, 57.8% FG, 25.6% 3P, 72.9% FT, 30.9 PER, 14.4 WS
There isn’t much more to say about a man that is such a uniquely phenomenal basketballer and athlete. Giannis completed Kobe’s #MambaMentality Challenge by earning MVP last season, but what puts Giannis at #2 in next season’s MVP race is Kobe’s next challenge…a Championship. Giannis got pipped at the post by a well-rested Kawhi Leonard, who seemed to breeze through the regular season and had conserved his energy and tenacity for the Playoffs. It will be very interesting to see if Giannis employs a similar strategy. Giannis definitely pushed to become MVP last season, and now that he will forever have that to his name, his focus this season will surely turn to lifting the Larry O’B in 2020.
#1 – Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Award History: 3 x NBA Champion (2015, 2017-18), 2 x MVP (2015-16), 6 x All Star (2014-19), 3 x All NBA 1st Team (2015-16, 2019), 2 x All NBA 2nd Team (2014, 2017), All NBA 3rd Team (2018), NBA Scoring Champion (2016), NBA Steals Leader (2016), 50-40-90 Club (2016), All Rookie 1st Team (2010)
2018-19 Averages: 33.8 mpg, 27.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.4 bpg, 47.2% FG, 43.7% 3P, 91.6% FT, 24.4 PER, 9.7 WS
In a season that was largely labelled as a write-off because of a stacked Golden State Warriors team, Steph Curry still managed to come 5th in MVP voting…receiving 150 more votes than Kevin Durant… and now Curry faces a season without KD, no Klay, no Cousins, and no Igoudala. To say that Curry is going to have to put the Warriors on his back like his previous MVP seasons is an understatement. Curry is going to have a monstrous season. D’Angelo Russell’s impact is yet to be determined, and no one knows how long he’s going to stay. But one thing is for certain, Stephen Curry is going to tear it up.
The Next 5:
#6 Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
#7 Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
#8 Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
#9 Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
#10 Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
At the beginning of last season, Kemba was an early MVP favourite. He’s been a quality player on a poor team his whole career, so does playing with young stars like Brown and Tatum help him? If Boston can get it right, and if the FIBA World Cup isn’t a look into the future, Kemba should be able to lead this quality Celtics team to a high seed while boosting his impact and stats.