The regular NBA season may be over, but the race for MVP is still going strong.
While the league is not shy of talent, there is one player that rises, or rather splashes, above the rest.
Standing at 6 foot 3 inches and 190 pounds, the point guard for the Golden State Warriors encompasses everything that it means to be an MVP for the 2014-2015 season.
I’m fully aware of the gravity of that statement. But let me explain.
Leading one of the best teams in the NBA all season — and the deepest bench in basketball today — Curry has made an incredible impact on his teammates, fans and all of those who appreciate basketball.
Following him, many of us have witnessed some of his career milestones this season:
1,000 career three-pointers
An NBA record of 273+ three-pointers in one season, breaking his own record of 272 in the 2012-2013 season
Lead vote-getter overall for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game
Winner of the three-point shooting contest at the 2015 NBA All-Star game
Fastest player to hit 1,000 three-pointers in NBA history
Also in the running are LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. However, I don’t think they make the MVP cut and here’s why.
LeBron James — Cleveland Cavaliers
Let’s eliminate “King” James right off the bat.
There’s no doubt that James is a quality player overall. He averages 25.3 points per game, and by the age of 21 he had a $90 million contract, a Rookie of the Year award and an Olympic appearance.
This season though, James fell short to Curry in a few areas. For starters, he has played 11 less games than the All-Star point guard. He also trailed Curry in assists, free-throw percentage and three-point percentage.
While his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is ranked as the second seed in the East, that degree of success is questionable.
Besides the fact that they have 14 less wins than Golden State, the Cavs’ ranking in the Eastern Conference will never compare to the Western Conference. Teams like the Brooklyn Nets make the playoffs with 38-44 record in the Eastern Conference — something that would not happen in the West.
The West is the best. Sorry about it.
Russell Westbrook — Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook was unstoppable. At the end of this season, he was serving more triple-doubles than In-N-Out.
When it comes to quality, Westbrook fits the shoe, but there’s still a little wiggle room for argument.
Westbrook’s incredible late season performance was a little short-lived than in terms of what is MVP-worthy. He tops Curry in points, assists and rebounds per game, but he has also played 13 less games.
In addition, he also falls short to Curry in free throws, three-point and field goal percentages.
In terms of success, Westbrook’s team underwent a dramatic change when its star forward, Kevin Durant, suffered a knee injury, rendering him out for the rest of the season.
The team was recently knocked out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference and did not make the playoffs.
This sealed Westbrook’s fate in my book. There has only been one player in the history of the NBA to win MVP without securing a playoff spot, and that’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 27.7 points, 16.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 4.1 blocks per game in the 1975-76 season.
Russell Westbrook may be good, but he’s no Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
James Harden — Houston Rockets
There’s no doubt in my mind that Harden is the runner-up. And he sure deserves to be.
He has the quality factor in the bag. In the absence of Dwight Howard, the Rockets’ star center, Harden carried the team through an 11-game stretch to land them in the No. 3 seed in the West. However, he wasn’t able to bring it in the four games that they played against Golden State. In fact, they lost by at least 10 points in those matchups.
But according to Harden, “They ain’t even that good.”
And of course the debate does not stop there. One of the main arguments for Harden as MVP is that his team is much worse than the Warriors. Without him they wouldn’t be where they are.
While this may be true, I really don’t think it’s a determining factor. The Warriors also play better when Curry is on the court.
While Harden contributes to making an average team a good team, Curry is contributing to making a good team a historically great team.
Curry plays with great energy and physical force. He makes the Golden State Warriors a better team, and he never fails to make the audience jump to its feet. His talent has to be seen to be believed.
All of the contenders are having amazing seasons, but this is Curry’s year to shine.
Stephanie Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @stephbottt on Twitter.