The NBA season is in full throttle, and we’re getting to the time of year when everyone’s asking the question: who will be the 2017 NBA MVP? In contrast to other years, there are numerous candidates in the running to take home the association’s greatest individual player achievement award, and this race doesn’t appear to be opening up anytime soon, with these great players each putting up big stat lines.
PPG APG RPG FT% FG% 3FG% PER *
*statistics accurate as of 3/8/17
All-stars James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas and Kawhi Leonard are all having career years and are putting up incredible stats. Westbrook is on pace to average a triple-double for the entire season, which has only been done one other time in the history of the sport. Harden isn’t far behind him with just two fewer assists each game. Thomas, at only 5’9, is second in the league in scoring and has catapulted into superstar status. And Leonard is an elite defender who has transformed into a legitimate first option on a team. All four of these stars have their own case to win MVP, and they each have their own unique story. The opinions of basketball fans are vastly varied and it’s clear to see why. Trevor Elmendorf, Shaker High School Junior, claims that he thinks, and wants, Isaiah Thomas to win the award.
“I think Thomas is having an amazing season, and is the reason for Boston’s success, so he should win MVP. He’s leading the lead in fourth quarter scoring and is second in the league behind Russell [Westbrook]. That shows how clutch he is and, to me, that really shows how efficient a player really is” said Elmendorf. Thomas, the last pick of the 2011 draft, is averaging about 11 PPG (points per game) in the fourth quarter, which is on pace for the highest fourth quarter scoring mark in NBA history. Elmendorf said , “Isaiah makes his teammates better, which is what the MVP should do. I believe that team success is key to determining the MVP and that the best players make players around them better, and wins matter more than personal stats.” Not everyone has such a clear opinion on who should win MVP. Shaker High Senior Brandon Kayemba has different views.
“Yeah, I’d definitely say that this MVP race is one of the closer ones in recent memory. It’s tough to think about when you consider the seasons these guys are having. If I had to make a choice, I’d pick Westbrook. He’s been doing things this year that haven’t been done in over 50 years. It’s incredible.” When asked if the award should go to the truly most valuable player, or the player who puts up the best stats, Kayemba replied, “Most valuable for sure. I’ve watched the Thunder play this season with and without Westbrook, and it’s clear to see that without him, they’d be a lottery-bound team. I know it usually goes to the player who puts up the best statline, but you can put up 50 a game and not make the playoffs, which defeats the purpose of your stats.”
This year’s race is likely going to come down to where each team falls in the playoffs standings. Since 1985, only one player has won the MVP without his team being a top-2 team in the respective conference, so whoever leads their team to one of the best records in their conference is ‘given’ an advantage in a way. Currently, Thomas and Leonard are both the #2 seeds in their conference, and both are likely to hold onto that position. Surprisingly, not many people are including LeBron James, one of the greatest players ever, in this discussion. One person who believes LeBron is the clear choice for MVP is his longtime, current teammate, James Jones.
LeBron James is one player that you can say truly deserves this award every single year, but many voters and fans often get tired of voting for him over and over again. Three of the four times a LeBron-led team has finished first in the conference, he won the MVP award. Will history repeat itself again, or will a new face emerge as the league’s most valuable player? Find out on June 26th.