We won’t waste a lot of digital ink charting out the Byzantine complexity involved in trying to quantify a given player’s value to his team, or revisiting the old familiar arguments about which major factors should weigh more heavily than others when it comes to awarding the league’s most prestigious individual accolade, i.e. the NBA MVP trophy. It’s well-trodden territory. Suffice it to say that a number of criteria come into play, such as available statistical data (both basic and advanced), team success, recent play, strength of schedule, that rather nebulous quality we like to call “leadership,” clutch play, defense, hustle, overall basketball IQ, championship contender status, toughness, entertainment factor/GIFability, a healthy amount of subjectivity and/or confirmation bias on our part, “what have you done for me lately,” and much, much more.
So, here are our top three MVP candidates through Feb. 21. We’ve whittled the list to the top five so that we’re only discussing the very cream of the crop and because this is a bi-monthly column, so that we can focus more narrowly on what’s happened in just the past two weeks. We’ll still briefly discuss a handful of other players who just missed the cut, but deserve a shout-out nonetheless.
1. Steph Curry
Before their stunning blowout loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Golden State Warriors had won 11-straight going into the All-Star break. In February, the reigning MVP has averaged 33.8 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals on 52.5 percent from the field and 49.2 percent from behind-the-arc, the best month of his already stellar season so far. Curry wasn’t able to bring home the Three-Point Shootout title over All-Star weekend (he’s an explicable 1-5 in the event overall and claims he’s done with it). That belonged to teammate Klay Thompson, but Curry maintains his grip on the MVP award like the face-huggers from the Alien franchise.