LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and now Russell Westbrook all share one thing in common, all of them have won the league MVP in the past. This list is not for them, this list is about the guys who have yet to win the award but have a chance to this season. Depending on how much they improved over the summer, they can take the step to being into the conversation as the best players in the league. and put themselves in the NBA history books with a league MVP trophy this season.
Honorable mentions Jimmy Butler , Paul George
Jimmy Butler and Paul George are both playing for new teams this year and both teams are loaded. These guys have been compared for the past few years. Both are great defensive players. Paul George came into the league a great offensive player, while Jimmy Butler has become better over time. With Butler playing with the coach that helped him blossom into the superstar we know and love today, we expect big things from him. Especially with a squad like Minnesota, who has young talent everywhere on the court. For butler to win the MVP this season he will have to be a leader, something he’s never had to be before. Through out his tenor at Chicago he worked his way up from the rookie with talent to the defensive stopper to the second best player on the team. He eventually became the focal point of the team until Rajon Rondo took the team over at the leadership stand point. It’s up to Butler to show his young teammates, who have never been to the playoffs before how to put in the work to max out their talent as a team.
The same could be said about Paul George with him on a new team. Every year he has gotten better. His problem is that he has MVP talent but is lacking the best MVP mindset. meaning he doesn’t seem to want it enough. Maybe it seemed that way the last few season because he was coming off injury. Or it could be that he was with an organization he didn’t wanna play with. Whatever the reason, this year is the year he can rewrite his story. In order for the Thunder to get past Golden State he is going to have to be the best player on the floor and I know that’s asking a lot for a guy who is on a team with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony but he can do it. He is going to have to be this teams defensive leader and offensive leader. Even though Melo may be the better scorer, most nights Paul George will be the one with the mismatch on him and he must take advantage of it.
Last year stats: 25.5 points/5.8 rebounds/1.8 steals
17-18 stats predictions: 28.5 points/7 rebounds/2 steals
Last year The Claw finished third in MVP voting behind harden and Westbrook who had historic seasons. If not for those two having the seasons they had Kawhi Leonard would have won it by a landslide. He is widely considered the best two way player in the league and its not close . He is a two time defensive player of the year, he has a finals MVP and his scoring average has increased each season he has been in the league. Considering all of that I expect him only to get better. The problem that comes to him is that with all the great teams in the West, we don’t know if this is the year the year for the Spurs to finally return to earth in the regular season. I don’t know if they have enough fire power around Leonard to go through the west and finish in the top 4 seed which is what you usually have to do to be in real consideration’s for the MVP award.
Last year stats: 22.9 ppg/8.8 rpg/5.4 apg
17-18 stats projections: 25 ppg/7 rpg/7 apg
The Greek freak is just that – a freak. Last year coming into the season we all heard about the point guard experiment and we all were interested in seeing what happens and could he evolve as a player and boy did he. From 15-16 to 16-17 his point per game went from 16.9 to 22.9 while his rebounds as well as assist jumped up and I don’t expect him to change at all. He is going to get better and now with the East being as deflated as they are I expect him and his team to take advantage of this and finish with a top three seed in the East.
Last year averages 29 ppg/11.2 aag/8.1 rebounds
This year projections 31 ppg/8 aag/8 rpg
You can argue Harden should have 2 MVP’s right now and you would have a point. Curry and Westbrook both barely beat him in the MVP race . Last year Harden was the primary point guard for the Rockets with tremendous pressure. He was coming of a pretty disappointing year with the team losing the way they did in the playoffs and he erased all our memories about that season with the performance he put up last year. When he went from a score first shooting guard to pass first point guard. As good as he looked at the point guard spot they still were destroyed in the second round due to James being tired. But this year will be different, the Houston Rockets made a trade for Chris Paul this off-season that will take a lot of pressure of Harden on the offensive end where he can just focus on scoring the ball . It a be interesting to see how Harden reacts to Chris Paul taking the rains of the offense cause since he has came to Houston whether he is at the point or the off guard position he has always had the ball in his hand.
Last season stats 28ppg/11.8rpg/2.2bpg
Projected 17-18 stats 31.2ppg/11rpg/2bpg
Usually to win MVP you have to have one of the top records in the league unless you have an historical season and I expect him to put up Shaq type numbers going into this year. Most think Davis is the next to get the torch from LeBron and from the stat line he can put up he should be. The only thing that can hold him back is that for most of his career he hasn’t played with any players who deserved to be on the court with him at the same time. This year should be different with the acquisition of Demarcus Boogie Cousins and Rondo at the point and you still have Holiday this team can make the playoffs. Many people think you cant play two bigs like Davis and Cousin at the same time anymore but they are wrong Davis not only has a post game he also has a excellent outside game plus he 7 foot tall and can guard every position on the floor. For the pelicans to make the playoff Davis must take control of this team. This year is going to be the year we see what he is made of. We have made every excuse in the book for him the past few seasons but if he as good as we think he is he should be able to lead this team to the playoffs . If he does show up this season and they can finish a top 5-6 seed in the west while Davis putting up the numbers he capable of doing he can be this years Westbrook.