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 Jan. 24. We’ve whittled the list to three instead of five so that we’re only discussing the very cream of the crop and, because this is a bi-weekly 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
Curry’s lucky this column was put on brief hiatus last week; otherwise, he would’ve briefly relinquished his throne after dropping two games the previous week to inferior teams in the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons. Of course, Curry and the Warriors followed that up by going undefeated last week, racking up consecutive wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Chicago Bulls, and the Indiana Pacers – three of the best teams the Eastern Conference has to offer. And Curry was superb in those games, posting a 39-point, 10-rebound, 12-assists triple-double against fellow MVP candidate Paul George Friday. Earlier that week was the Warriors’ now-infamous drubbing of the Cavs – during which Curry effortlessly dropped 35 points through three quarters – which may or may not have led to the summary dismissal of David Blatt, depending on who you ask. Regardless, Curry once again reigns supreme atop our standings.