The NBA season has reached the point where teams begin to make their runs, and players start campaigning for individual awards. Upper-tier players will take charge, distance themselves from the pack, and lead their respective teams to new heights.
Here are your top 10 MVP candidates for the 2013-2014 season.
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10. STEPHEN CURRY â€“ Golden State Warriors
2013-2014 Averages: 23.4 points, 9.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 44 percent from the field and a 23.33 PER.
Stephen Curry is working great as the main scorer and distributor for a Warriors team with a lot of upside. He is one of the deadliest shooters in the league, but when his shot is not falling he is able to create easy offense for his teammates. Curry is averaging 11 assists in his last five games against an average of 2.6 turnovers. The Warriors are not among the elite teams in the Western Conference, so Curry will more than likely float around the 7-10 spots on this list all season.
9. TONY PARKER â€“ San Antonio Spurs
2013-2013 Averages: 18.0 points, 6.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 50 percent from the field and a 19.88 PER.
Tony Parker’s much-heralded efficiency has seen a shocking decrease over the Spurs last five games; he is shooting a pedestrian 45 percent during that period. But Parker is the type of player that will change his approach and start attacking the basket more. He is the motor to this ageless Spurs team, currently sitting at third place in the Western Conference with the ability to surge to the top spot at a moment’s notice. San Antonio will remain a powerhouse in the West for the remainder of the season, but Parker won’t need to post astronomical numbers in the process. Do not expect him to soar up the ranks.
8. KEVIN LOVE – Minnesota Timberwolves
2013-2014 Averages: 26.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, 46 percent from the field and a 28.45 PER.
Kevin Love does everything for the Timberwolves. He is asked to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, win games and fill the arena. This task has appeared minuscule to the All-Star power forward, and Love is still finding ways to improve. Over his last five games, he has recorded a double-double with nothing less than 25 points and 11 rebounds in every game (with averages of over 31 points, nearly 15 rebounds and five dimes). His scorching start to the season experienced an abrupt halt when his Timberwolves started losing close games, and his field goal percentage plummeted down to the low 40s. But Kevin Love will stuff that stat-sheet all season long, even though it is not certain he can bring Minnesota out of the depths of a deep Western Conference.
7. RUSSELL WESTBROOK â€“ Oklahoma City Thunder
2013-2014 Averages: 21.3 points, 7.0 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 42 percent from the field and a 21.41 PER.
Westbrook has been an absolute beast since his return from injury. He is still in the process of returning to his peak form, but he has done everything OKC has needed to battle in the West. His MVP stock will drop due to his knee surgery to reduce swelling — Westbrook will be out of action until after the All-Star break. Yet this is no real cause for concern in Oklahoma City since Kevin Durant is currently playing at an unreal rate.
6. DAMIAN LILLARD â€“ Portland Trail Blazers
2013-2014 Averages: 21.1 points, 5.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 41 percent from the field and a 19.83 PER.
The young gun, Damian Lillard has been electric this season for a really good Blazers team. He is the perfect complement to the ultra-skilled LaMarcus Aldridge. His performances in clutch situations this season have catapulted Lillard among some of the league’s elite point guards. His ability to score when needed or facilitate the rock makes him a diverse threat. Damian Lillard’s MVP stock will stay neutral for the remainder of the season. The higher-ups on the list will make it hard for him to crack the top three, but he will play at an All-NBA level for the rest of the year.
5. CHRIS PAUL â€“ Los Angeles Clippers
2013-2014 Averages: 19.9 points, 11.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 46 percent from the field and a 27.88 PER.
Chris Paul has been excellent this season. His production is not quite at the level of his season-opening outburst, but he is still the bright point for the Clippers. He is doing it all for Los Angeles, more so on the defensive end; he is averaging 3.6 steals in his last five games. The Clippers are currently sitting at the fourth seed with no immediate jump in site — they sit five games back of the first place Thunder. Chris Paul’s MVP stock could rise at any moment… his level of play could elevate at the snap of a finger, especially with a team that relies on his efforts as heavily as the Clippers.
4. PAUL GEORGE â€“ Indiana Pacers
2013-2014 Averages: 23.9 points, 3.6 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 48 percent from the field and a 24.11 PER.
The NBA should find a way to fix the schedules because it is almost criminal that Paul George and the Pacers were not playing on Christmas day. The Pacers are a defense-first team, and Paul George is a main component behind that motto. His on-ball, off-ball and help defense have all be amazing this year. I wonder if it is possible for a player to win Most Improved Player consecutively; Paul George would be my frontrunner. He has been performing at an elite level this season and has the Pacers currently leading the East. Unfortunately for George, the three players ahead of him are the crÃ¨me of the crop in the NBA at the moment. The highest George could climb is into the three spot. The top two candidates will be battling all season long.
3. LaMARCUS ALDRIDGE â€“ Portland Trail Blazers
2013-2014 Averages: 23.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 47 percent from the field and a 22.49 PER.
LaMarcus Aldridge is the best player in Portland and has the Trail Blazers challenging for the Western Conference crown. Aldridge’s play does not come as a surprise — the ability was never in question, he just needed the proper pieces around him. His versatility will serve him well for the remainder of the season. His stock will stay in the top three for the most part… possibly a swap with Paul George for a couple weeks, but much like the rest of this list it will be difficult to unseat the top two candidates.
2. KEVIN DURANT â€“ Oklahoma City Thunder
2013-2014 Averages: 28.5 points, 4.8 assists, 8.3 rebounds, 50 percent from the field and a 28.39 PER.
The league’s leading scorer has been posting videogame-esque numbers. In his last five games, he averaged 27.4 points and nine rebounds while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Want something even more ridiculous? Here are KD’s numbers for the entire month of December: 28.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, while shooting 54/50/89 splits. Wow. With Westbrook’s extended absence, expect Durant to keep up the pace with his abnormal stat-lines. Durant can easily grab the top spot in the MVP race, but at the moment he lands at number two.
1. LeBRON JAMES â€“ Miami Heat
2013-2014 Averages: 25.4 points, 6.5 assists, 6.9 rebounds, 59 percent from the field and a 29.65 PER.
It is hard to fathom LeBron James improving from last season, but he has found a way to become more efficient. The scary thing is LeBron and the Heat have been coasting through the early stages of the season because it is pretty much known they have a date with Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals. I am not sure if LeBron will lead the Heat on another legendary run this season because they have racked up a lot of miles chasing this third ring and a fourth straight trip to the Finals, but if he keeps up this level of play, and voter fatigue does not get in the way, LeBron will win his fifth MVP award.
Who do you think will be holding the trophy at year’s end?
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