LeBron James has already won four MVP awards, but what’s a fifth to a guy who is just two-for-six where it matters?
In the 2014-15 season, the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors also produced the league’s regular season MVP, Stephen Curry. But Curry is not given the odds to repeat, with Vegas oddsmakers setting him at +650 to win the honor again.
Typically, this makes sense, as back-to-back MVP can be something of a rarity. But will voters really spread the wealth around? LeBron James has had his fill of the award, in some senses (four times, if we’re keeping score, and we are).
Then there is the fact that Kevin Durant has won it just once, despite three scoring titles already under his belt. He’s coming off a season riddled with injuries, but that hardly seems like a reason to count out Durantula.
There is a beast lurking down in the Big Easy, with the shoulders to bear the immense load his team will need him to. Anthony Davis, for the sleeping. And then the Houston Rockets have the league’s premier 2-guard at this juncture in NBA history.
There are arguments to be made for all these guys, and they are by no means the only ones with a chance at it. Let’s delve into who has what it takes to win this year’s MVP award.
LeBron James (+280)
LeBron James won the MVP award in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Does he take it again in 2016? It has been a couple years since he took the award, and he was sort of robbed of the 2015 Finals MVP, though it does not often go to a player on the losing team.
After stringing together one of the most impressive Finals runs, does that carry over to some extra consideration this year? It seems like as logical an argument as any. Could James win his fifth MVP award? There’s a reason he’s the favorite, and we can leave it at that.
Anthony Davis is probably the league’s most dominant player at this point, but the New Orleans Pelicans have a ways to go before they can be considered true contenders. That said, if Davis makes them that this year, or sooner than expected, this might be his award to lose.
Davis is not even trailing LBJ by much in the odds, as Davis is +300 to win the award. Given his defensive brilliance, he might have an equal chance of winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. If voters want a two-way threat to pencil in as the MVP, Davis is that man. But this is an award typically based a lot on offensive brilliance. Does that make another guy more favored to win, if Davis is around the No. 5 leading scorer this year?
Kevin Durant (+550)
Kevin Durant should be on a mission: He had to watch the 2015 playoffs from home and no matter how Russell Westbrook nearly saved the season, he did not. Durant won the award in 2013-14, and he could be primed to do it again. It seems the OKC have become long-sufferers, now three full seasons removed from its last Finals appearance.
Durant and Westbrook are about the best one-two tandem in the league, and if one is going to win an MVP award, it seems that man is Durant. But Westbrook (+1200) cannot be counted out.
Stephen Curry (+650)
The fact Stephen Curry won it last year does not help his chances this year. We repeat: It hurts them. Curry is the league’s best scoring point guard and one of the best shooters of all time, but the Warriors have a tough act to repeat after winning 67 games last season.
Even if Curry leads the team to an encore, it might not be enough to take the MVP award.
James Harden has a better chance at taking the scoring title than winning this award. His defense is too subpar, and the Rockets are really second-tier contenders, notwithstanding that the team did make it to the Conference Finals.
The San Antonio Spurs and Warriors both pose more legit threats to take the 2016 Larry O’Brien trophy, but Harden might take this award if he just goes entirely bonkers and out of control. If he averages 30-plus point per games as the Rockets cruise to 60 plus wins, it might be his to lose. But we are not liking those chances, nor are Vegas oddsmakers who set the line at +700 for the Bearded One.
Best of the Rest:
Russell Westbrook (+1200)
Westbrook went absolutely bonkers last season, but he is still the second best player on his team.
Chris Paul (+1600)
Every year we can pose a legitimate argument that CP3 finally wins this award, and a title. But that is in vain: He will not.
Blake Griffin (+2000)
We like Blake Griffin more than CP3 if a Clipper is going to win this award. He became a premier point-forward with over five assists per game last season, which may be his best attribute for winning an award like this.