With less than 100 days until the start of the NBA season, now seems like the perfect time to make some early award predictions. We start with the most “valuable” award of them all, literally: the NBA Most Valuable Player award.
With all-time great names such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant being recipients of the coveted award, the award heads all the way back to the 1955-56 season, a year that saw Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks named as the first ever winner of the NBA Regular Season MVP award.
Now 1956 was a long time ago, we on the other hand will be focusing on the upcoming 2016-17 season. This season is expected to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. Now let’s jump right into the predictions.
Early Frontrunners for the NBA MVP Award
1. Stephen Curry – Point Guard – Golden State Warriors
Last season Stephen Curry was named the NBA’s first ever unanimous MVP. Not even Michael Jordan or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can say they achieved that. Curry solidified his legacy, helping his Warriors team win 73 games. 73 wins is the largest total of victories in NBA regular season history.
Curry averaged 30.1 points per game last season in Golden State, but Curry fell short of a title after being defeated in seven games by LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers. Curry has an unrealistic ability to shoot; any player who turns real life into a video game is a player to be feared. Curry is certainly that guy.
Curry will team up with NBA superstar Kevin Durant this season, a move which will make the Warriors even harder to beat. Until Curry’s opposition finds a way to stop him or at least slow him down, Curry will continue to be successful at the highest level.
Curry is the favorite to retain his title of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Because even though the real King of the NBA sits on his throne in Cleveland, the King of the NBA’s Regular Season MVP award resides in Oakland.
2. Russell Westbrook – Point Guard – Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook finished fourth in last year’s MVP voting, which is a respectable finish for an explosive point guard who is improving every year. Last season Westbrook averaged 23.5 points, 10.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds. Westbrook is a triple-double machine, having tallied 29 of them in the last two seasons alone.
Westbrook’s scoring numbers should go through the roof this season, especially after the loss of fellow superstar Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook should be set to average over 26 points per game this season, as he is now the Thunder’s main scoring threat.
Westbrook is more than capable of winning this award. And with Durant leaving town for a Western Conference rival, Westbrook will not be short of motivation. This coming season could be Westbrook’s year where he takes home the NBA Regular Season MVP award.
3. Kawhi Leonard – Small Forward – San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard is an emerging star in the NBA and plays for one of the best run franchises in the association. After finishing as runner-up in last season’s MVP voting, Leonard will look to finish in first place this time around. Leonard might be the Spurs best player, and he will develop into their natural leader in years to come.
Leonard, alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, has become the pillar of an ageing franchise. Considering Spurs legend Tim Duncan retired and Tony Parker is not getting any younger, Leonard and Aldridge will hope to revitalize the franchise.
The small forward from San Diego State will likely average more than his 21.2 point total from last season. Leonard entered the NBA with defense and hustle being his main focuses. But Leonard has realized if he is to ever be an MVP caliber player, he will need to score more.
4. LeBron James – Small Forward – Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James is known as the “King” for a reason. Four-time NBA Regular Season MVP award winner. Six straight NBA Finals appearances and three-time NBA champion. The list of achievements for James is incredible, and he will once again be in contention for the NBA Regular Season MVP award. James was voted as the third best player in NBA last season and will attempt to retain the NBA Championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers this coming season.
Last season an ageing James averaged 25.3 points, 6.8 assists and 7.4 rebounds, great numbers for a player who every year is heavily scrutinized and has more pressure heaped upon himself than any other NBA player. Despite the intense pressure, James always finds a way to be successful. James’ work load is incredible, and this was pointed out by Luke Knox of ESPN.co.uk. In Knox’s article, he shows us that James has played more regular season and playoff minutes than any other player in NBA history. An incredible set of stats and also the reason James may struggle to win this year’s MVP award.
LeBron James will bring big numbers to the table and will definitely help the Cavaliers win once again this season. James is extremely focused, and helping Cleveland win another championship will likely be more of a priority than winning another MVP award.
5. Paul George – Small Forward – Indiana Pacers
After recovering from a bad leg break during the 2014-15 season, Paul George returned last season with a bang. Making one of the best comebacks in all of sports, George averaged 23.1 points and 7 rebounds per game. George played a huge role in the Pacers making the playoffs. The Pacers are set to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
George is capable of winning the MVP award, mainly because of the upgrades the Pacers have made this off-season. By trading for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young, they added key pieces in their efforts to become a leading team in the East. The team also signed big man Al Jefferson to a 3-year deal. The Pacers drafted Joseph Young and Georges Niang as well. So the surrounding cast is there for George to have his best statistical season yet.
George can lead this team to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. And if George manages to do so, there is no reason why he can’t be NBA Regular Season MVP come the end of the season.