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NBA Preview: NBA MVP Candidates

With reigning MVP, Oklahoma City Thunder Forward Kevin Durant on the shelf indefinitely with an injury, that leads the MVP race wide open. Durant was the first since Derrick Rose to be named MVP other than the King Lebron James and with James now back home in Cleveland, it could lead to a wide open race, especially if Rose is back to his MVP form this coming season. Who are the leading candidates? Some are obvious like Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and even Kevin Durant upon his return and some may be off the radar, so lets drop some names into this MVP hat.

1. LA Clippers Blake Griffin: Last season averaging 24 points per game with nine  rebounds and three assists, Blake Griffin continues to develop his overall game to make himself one of the best players in the NBA. What has improved is his perimeter game and his free throw shooting. Griffin is no longer just the leader of “Lob City” he is the leader of the LA Clippers and their future moving forward. Griffin was in the MVP discussion briefly last year, but expect him to be involved in the MVP talks from the get go throughout the season.

2. Houston Rockets James Harden: The acquisition of Harden from the Thunder has proven to pay off for the Rockets as Harden has been worth every single million he signed for. Averaging 25 points with five rebounds and six assists per game, Harden has been the deciding factor in making the Rockets a consistent playoff team. His on the floor leadership skills continue to improve as does his overall game. The one drawback with Harden is that he is prone to turnovers, more than a point guard normally should. In the end, the numbers that Harden throws up cannot be ignored for they are MVP numbers.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook: With Durant on the shelf to more than likely December, this is the time for Westbrook to step up and stand out from the shadow that is Kevin Durant. Averaging 22 points with six rebounds and sevens dimes, Westbrook looks to become “the man” in Oklahoma City. No one questions his leadership skills nor his intangible talents on the court. The one issue with Westbrook is his game and how it translate to the “team game” that is needed to win an NBA Title. Westbrook reminds me of Allen Iverson, who DID win an MVP but was always coming up short when it came to capturing that elusive championship. Will Westbrook win the MVP award or will the deficiencies finally be put on display? The season will tell the tale.

4. Los Angeles Clippers Chris Paul: CP3 is the floor general that just makes plays and good decisions on the court for Lob City. His 19 points per game average is decent. Add the four rebounds and 10 assists per game and you have one of the most complete point guards in the NBA. His off the field contributions are also on the highest regards. Paul has gotten a little too “hollywood” per say with all his State Farm commercials and has worked hard during the off season. Keeping the team solid within the organization during the Sterling scandal and the new owner transition. With most of the drama behind them, Paul can put 100% focus back onto the court and help get his Clippers past that hump and deeper into the playoffs.

5. Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry: One-Half of the dynamic duo known as the “SPLASH Brothers,” Curry drops 24 points, 4 rebounds and 9 dimes average per game. His ability to pull up from 40 and not think twice is remarkable and fearless. His leadership skills on the court and off the court continue to improve, quickly moving Curry into the “Elite” status of the NBA. The unknown this year is new Head Coach Steve Kerr, who comes in as a first year coach. Will he tamper with what is working or go with the flow that is already working well. One thing Curry must improve on is his mid range game for at times it is lacking in crucial situations. The turnovers in key portions ALSO need to lessen for Curry to crown him the best point guard in the NBA. Curry is well on his way and is an MVP candidate this year.

5. Houston Rockets Dwight Howard: Averaging 18 points per game with 12 boards and 2 blocks, Howard struggled through the season battling injuries and still got a solid season in, even with the injuries around his team. Howard is a beast in the middle when healthy and is capable of putting up a fifty-burger at any given time. Howard’s free throw shooting may ultimately be his kryptonite but this Superman in the middle is a player to not mess around with in the paint as he continues to develop his game as well as his temperament.

Honorable Mentions (List of players who will be talked about)

1. New Orleans Pelicans Anthony Davis

2. Miami Heat Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade

3. Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love

4. Washington Wizards John Wall and Brandon Beal

5. San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard

6. Sacramento Kings Demarcus Cousins

7. Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki

8. Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah

9. Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant

The “Honorable Mentions” are like BLIPS on the MVP tongues. Not for long as the MAIN list. Who wins the MVP award, time will tell as the regular season is set to kick off October 28th.

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