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 five MVP candidates through March 6. We’ve kept 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
Despite the Warriors’ stunning loss to the Lakers on Sunday and Curry’s 1-of-11 outing from downtown, these rankings are a mostly futile enterprise at this point, because Curry is going to run away with the MVP award for the second year in a row and could possibly become the first player to win it by unanimous vote; although, there’s always some spoiler who will find a reason not to vote for him, regardless of how flawed the logic. These rankings endure simply as an opportunity to acknowledge players who are at or near the top of their respective powers.
But just to be thorough, let’s list some of Curry and the Warriors’ recent highlights — they got right back on track with a win against the visiting Magic Monday night. They became the fastest team to 50 wins and the fastest team to clinch a playoff spot. Then, Curry beat Kyle Korver’s record of most consecutive games with a three-pointer, beat his own record for most threes in a single season, and tied the NBA record for most threes in a game with 12. And that was just last week. Oh, and the Warriors are still on pace to break the ’96 Bulls’ 72-win record.