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2015 NBA MVP Predictions, Preview, and Odds

2015 NBA MVP Predictions, Preview, and Odds

Even with reigning MVP Kevin Durant missing most of this season, the NBA is definitely not short of worthy candidates for the prestigious award. In fact, as many as six players have a legitimate claim to being named league MVP, led by front-runners Stephen Curry and James Harden.

But of course, there can only be one. We’ve broken down the top six candidates into three categories – the Monster Stats Sleepers, the Usual Suspects and the Favorites – and discussed the top reason/s why they are (or are not) deserving of the game’s top individual honor.

The large chunk of our criteria for the MVP will obviously take into account the player’s individual performance, but a significant percentage will also consider how his team fared this season. With all that out of the way, let’s find out who’s got the best case to take home the hardware.

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Who will be the 2015 NBA MVP?

Monster Stats Sleepers

These two players have put up simply unbelievable MVP-caliber stats for injury-hit teams, numbers that make them possible sleepers for the award.

Russell Westbrook

[sc:NBA240banner ]Russell Westbrook has done just about everything (super) humanly possible to keep a Thunder team without reigning MVP Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka afloat. His insane stretch of seven triple-doubles in 12 games, including four in a row back in February, was something to behold. He’s also on course for just the ninth 28-point, eight-assist and seven-rebound season in NBA history.

But Westbrook missed 15 games this season for a Thunder team that might miss the playoffs, which brings him down to the bottom of the six-man field.

Anthony Davis

Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is the go-to catchall stat to measure an individual basketball player’s performance. Well, that metric says 22-year old Anthony Davis was the most productive player in the league this year by a comfortable margin.

Davis’ 31.06 PER is downright historic. He joins a rarefied list that includes Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players with a PER of 31 or higher in a season. The Pelicans making the playoffs will be in large part because of Davis’ greatness, but like Westbrook, the 14 games he missed take his candidacy down a peg.

The Usual Suspects

These two players have a proven track record of MVP-caliber play, and have been main contributors to their respective teams’ very good seasons.

LeBron James

This has not been a vintage LeBron James season. The King is set to play a career-low in games (during a non-lockout season) at 69, with his scoring (25.3 PPG) the lowest it’s been since his rookie year. His field goal percentage (49 percent) is also at a five-year low. As a result, the Cavs were very slow out of the gate and were verging on catastrophe.

But ever since James returned from a two-week hiatus at the start of the year, he has been on an MVP-like tear to lead the new-look Cavs to the second-best record in the NBA at 33-10. Unfortunately, the slow start to his Cleveland homecoming will likely cost him a fifth MVP trophy.

There’s absolutely no cost to creating a betting account needed to cash in on the upcoming NBA Playoffs action, so get to it now.

Chris Paul

On the other hand, it’s been quite a vintage Chris Paul season out in Los Angeles. Paul was instrumental in keeping the Clippers purring along as the most efficient offense in the league despite missing Blake Griffin for 15 games and a competent bench for the entire season.

Paul has been a 20-point, 10-assist, 50-40-90 (field goal, three-point field goal and free throw percentage) machine since the All-Star break, but his numbers still ultimately fall short compared to the two very top contenders.

The Favorites

These two players have the most impressive resumes and have been the most consistently excellent players of the bunch. The MVP race most likely will – and should – boil down to a head-to-head between the two of them.

Stephen Curry

Curry is not quite the best player in the league, but he is the best player on the league’s best team, the Golden State Warriors. Wait, check that. He’s the best player on a historically great team. The Warriors are on pace to become just the fifth team with a plus-10 point differential since the three-point line was instituted in 1979.

His numbers – 24 PPG, a record-breaking 268 three-pointers made on 44 percent shooting – are certainly MVP-caliber and they could’ve been much better had he played more fourth quarter minutes. Unfortunately, his juggernaut of a team couldn’t help blowing out just about everyone in the league.

In a weird way, the Warriors’ success has been used as a knock on Curry’s candidacy. His teammates are too good compared to what Harden’s got to work with in Houston, which somehow lessens Curry’s “value” to the team. But a quick look at the Warriors’ net rating when he’s on the court compared to when he’s off the court will tell you all you need to know about the validity of that argument.

James Harden

Harden, on the other hand, is arguably the most indispensable player on any team in the league. Replace Harden with a merely average shooting guard, and the Rockets probably wouldn’t come anywhere close to sniffing 50 wins.

Harden leads the league in the win shares statistic, the estimated number of wins contributed by a single player, this season. Anyone who watched the Rockets play this season can certainly attest to that after witnessing Harden’s all-around contributions throughout the year.

As currently constructed, Harden is essentially the Rockets’ entire offense. He’s the team’s leading scorer (27.5 PPG, 2nd in the NBA) and the team’s only legitimate playmaker (5.6 APG). Trevor Ariza and Jason Terry won’t be anywhere near as effective without Harden to feed them open three-point looks.

Harden has also improved from a completely embarrassing laughing stock on defense to a somewhat competent defender this season, which is impressive given the sheer amount of energy he expends on the offensive end.

Who should be MVP?

To be perfectly honest, either one will be a perfectly valid choice for MVP. Both players have been consistently great for the entire season, and deciding which one should win over the other would be splitting serious hairs. But while Harden’s season in Houston has been nothing short of spectacular, the fact that Curry is the undisputed leader of a historically great Warriors team swings it toward his favor.

Writer’s Prediction

It’s certainly not a stretch to see the voters also gravitate toward Curry with a similar line of thinking. Voters usually reward team success into their criteria, and no one was more successful than Golden State this season. After all the debate, Curry takes home the hardware as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

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Written by Brad

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