Evaluating the 2014-15 NBA MVP Candidates

Player2014 MVP Points 2015 MVP Odds
Kevin Durant12324/1
LeBron James8915/6
Blake Griffin43412/1
Joakim Noah322100/1
James Harden8528/1
Stephen Curry6628/1

((MVP odds from Crystal Sports Book))

LeBron James

Coming into the season, it seems like LeBron is the favorite to win the MVP. After all, he is on a team expected to at least make the Eastern Conference Finals, he’s got the narrative of coming back to Cleveland, and then there’s the small detail of him being the best player in the world. I’d say that LeBron is still the safe bet here, but there’s quite a bit working against him.

There’s the fact that he’s teamed up yet again with two of the best players in the league. They’re going to pull votes from each other. If this was a best player award, LeBron would have a lot better of a chance, but it won’t seem like he’s the most valuable nights when Love is going 26 and 14 or Kyrie hits four three-pointers in the fourth.

There’s also the reality that some voters just don’t want to vote for James. Not doing a TV special for his decision this time will help, but he’s still a fairly polarizing figure, and it’s hard for some to justify giving the same award to a guy year after year.

Kevin Durant

Considering KD is the reigning MVP, he has to be discussed, but with him out for at least the first month of the season, that’s really going to set back his overall production. I’d have trouble casting a vote for anyone who played less than 70 games, and it looks like Durant will be below that number, even if his recovery goes accord to plan.

The reason Durant won last year was his incredible scoring output, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue once he’s back on the court. For that reason alone, he’ll likely work himself into the conversation again, but it just doesn’t seem likely that he’ll have enough games under his belt to realistically be considered.

Russell Westbrook

Westbrook initially looked like his chances would be bolstered by Durant’s injury, he was going to be the superstar in OKC instead of the second best player, but now that he’s hurt as well, he finds himself in much of the same situation. Now that he’s out for at least six weeks, and possibly even more, there’s not much of a chance that his body of work is going to be big enough for him to have a shot at winning.

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin was third in last year’s voting, as he played the best season of his career. Now, there’s talk of him working on his outside game even more, which is something that should give the rest of the Western Conference goosebumps. If one of the premier inside players in the league also became a threat from beyond the arc, there might not be any way to stop the Clippers. Throw in the addition of Spencer Hawes in the offseason, and Blake should have even more room to work with. If he’s not in the top five at the end of the season, I’ll be shocked.

If you look at our site-wide predictions, you’ll see that my money is on Blake to win the MVP. It may be a stretch, but this team is going to be really, really good, and he’s going to be the main reason why.

Chris Paul

The main guy standing in the way of Griffin winning is CP-3. Whenever you have two superstars like these guys on the same team, they’re going to pull votes away from each other. Can Griffin really be the MOST valuable if his own teammate had a similar win shares figure? Can Paul really be considered the best passer this season if he has the pleasure of hitting a guy like Griffin half the times down the court? Regardless of any vote split, Paul is still the best point guard in the game right now, so that should put in him in the discussion automatically. The fact this Clippers team could win more than 60 games is only going to help his case.

Derrick Rose

Since his MVP season, Derrick Rose has fallen farther and farther from being regarded as one of the league’s top players. A few years ago, there was no question that he was a top 5 player in the league. Now ESPN ranks him behind Goran Dragic.1 Well Rose is back and he’s healthy, regardless of what some less-informed viewers may believe about his knees. There’s no medical reason to assume those were anything other than freak accidents. What is concerning is his rust after essentially missing two years. Rose is going to have less of a starring role in this offense, and while his impact will be felt, his MVP chances are slim.

Joakim Noah

Noah had a career year last year, and he did it while battling an array of injuries. He was able to finish fourth in voting overall, but I’m not optimistic that he cracks the top five this year. Many of his votes were the result of his team exceeding expectations after losing their best player to injury and trading away arguably their second best player. The team excelled on their defense, and Noah was the anchor. Throw in the fact that he played well offensively, and he was a worthy candidate. This year the aforementioned Rose is back and they’ve added Pau Gasol, meaning if the team is good, much less of the credit will belong to Noah.

Stephen Curry

In terms of this year’s MVP candidates, Curry seems to have the least working against him. He’s a budding superstar, on a quality team, but there’s not a second superstar on the roster to steal votes. Say what you want about Klay Thompson, but he’s nowhere near the level of a Kyrie Irving or a Joakim Noah. If this Warriors team exceeds expectations, it’s likely going to be because of Curry’s play. He has the potential to average 25 and 10 this year, which would have to put him somewhere in the conversation. He’s getting pretty good odds too, so he may be your guy for a high-upside bet.

Anthony Davis

Davis’ first game of the 2014 season has a lot of people excited, and rightfully so. Falling one block short of a triple double shows the kind of production that he’s capable of putting out any night of the season. The problem is, this Pelicans team just isn’t going to be nearly good enough for him to be seriously considered. He could end up averaging a double-double plus five blocks per night, and they’re still only going to win 42 games, which won’t be nearly enough in this stacked Western Conference. Davis could be in the discussion in a few years, and he honestly may be the most valuable to his team, but it’s not his time yet.

Carmelo Anthony

If the Knicks find a way to make the playoffs with anything above a .500 record, Anthony has to be in the conversation. The problem is, the Knicks really aren’t likely to get anything better than 38 wins, so no matter how well Melo plays, he’s just not a realistic choice.

James Harden

Like many guys on this list, Harden will suffer from having his vote split, as he plays with a guy who’s still in the conversation for best center in the league. Add to that the fact that Harden’s game is rather one-dimensional and he really doesn’t have much of shot. While scoring is the most important factor for voters historically, a complete disregard for defense isn’t going to gain him any votes.

  1. Those ESPN rankings were absurd, but I suppose that’s not worth writing too much about. But Kobe as far down as he was and Rose not in the top 20 is ridiculous. 

About the author: Alex Lowe

A former college athlete in a sport that no one cared about, Alex now spends most of his days being a furiously biased Bulls and Braves fan. When he's not busy with that, he still imagines his 5'7" self making an improbable rise to NBA stardom.