2014 NBA Power Rankings: Top 15 NBA MVP Candidates Thus Far
2014 MVP Power Rankings: Top 15 Candidates Thus Far
We’re just a little over midway through the 2013-14 NBA season and it feels more than a little bittersweet. It’s strange and unfortunate to think that the regular season ends in less than three months and that the postseason ends in about five months, but we’ve also been fortunate enough to see some great play this season and there’s almost undoubtedly more to come in the second half.
One of the biggest storylines this season has been the seemingly high number of injuries to bigger-named players around the league. While that’s definitely a loss because we miss out seeing those guys on the floor, it has also opened the door for players to step their games up to a new level and perform in ways that maybe they haven’t before in their career.
Because of the way this season has played out, the MVP race is more interesting than it probably has been in year’s past. In actuality, the race is only probably between two players, but there are still numerous players throughout the league that have been doing their best to remain relevant and at least remotely stay in the conversation this season.
Barring more freak injuries to star players, we can pretty much guess who the two guys battling it out at the top of the list for MVP are going to be when the season comes to an end. As of right now, though, with around 40 games remaining in the season for each team, it’s still an interesting conversation to discuss which players have been worthy of MVP consideration—even in the-slightest—thus far. In that light, here are the top 15 candidates for NBA MVP at the middle of the 2013-14 regular season.
15. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
Were it not for Chris Paul missing extended periods of time for the Los Angeles Clippers with a separated shoulder, he’d probably crack the top-five in this list. However, the Clippers having to play without him and still playing well deadens his value a bit. When healthy, though, Paul was putting up 19.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals in 34.6 minutes per game with 46.4 percent shooting and 35.6 percent three-point shooting. With those kind of numbers, it’s really only the pesky injury holding his MVP candidacy back.
14. Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans
Speaking of pesky injuries, New Orleans Pelicans second-year big man Anthony Davis is another guy who’s candidacy has been hurt by ailments, namely Davis breaking his hand earlier this year. Davis has been a leader and a monster in just his second season though. In 35.4 minutes per game, he’s put up 20 points, 10.2 rebounds, three blocks and 1.5 steals per game while converting on 51.8 percent of his shots. On both ends of the floor, Davis has been a monster worthy of at least discussing in MVP talks.
13. Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
Another second-year player, Damian Lillard has been the floor general for the most surprising success story of the 2013-14 season, the Portland Trail Blazers. You’d like to see Lillard’s 41.9 percent shooting rise and to see him improve defensively, but his 20.8 points, 5.7 assists and 3.6 boards per game are hard to argue with, as is the fact that he’s shooting 42.2 percent from deep. His efficiency is a legitimate knock on him, though, which is why he doesn’t crack the top 10 here.
12. Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns
I’m not sure there’s been a more upsetting injury this season than Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe’s knee injury. For a surprisingly successful Suns team, Bledsoe was remarkable when on the floor. Playing in just 24 games, Bledsoe put up 18 points, 5.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game when he was able to suit up while hitting a phenomenal 48.6 percent of his shot attempts and a reliable 35 percent of his threes. The fact that Bledsoe’s future for this season is uncertain will keep him out of any MVP talks, but his production while he was healthy was too good to ignore on a list like this.
11. Carmelo Anthony - New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have been a wreck for the majority of the 2013-14 regular season. However, that’s not really the fault of Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has been the lone bright spot for much of the year and recently has been on a monster tear that includes his 62-point outburst this past weekend. Overall, Anthony has averaged 27 points, 9.1 rebounds, three assists and 1.2 steals in 39.2 minutes per game on 44.7 percent shooting and remarkable 42 percent three-point shooting. The Knicks lack of success kills most of his stock, but Melo has been undeniable great this year.
10. James Harden – Houston Rockets
Even with the addition of Dwight Howard, you could have talked me into saying that James Harden of the Houston Rockets was a not-entirely-crazy dark-horse pick for MVP coming into the year. Make no mistake; Harden has been quite good this year. However, he hasn’t been putting up numbers as impressive as the one’s he produced in his first year with Houston last season. For the year he’s averaging 23.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds per contest on 44.4 percent shooting. However, his dip in three-poin5 shooting to just 32.1 percent is notable in this case, as is a seeming lack of consistency. Based on that, it’s hard to put him much higher than 10th.
9. Kevin Love – Minnesota Timberwolves
Through the first few weeks of the season, Kevin Love was easily a top-three or four candidate for MVP. He’s slowed down since, as have his Minnesota Timberwolves, but you can’t deny that he’s been incredibly productive and valuable this season. Love leads the league in double-doubles this year while averaging a monster line of 24.8 points, 13 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game on 45.5 percent shooting and 38.1 percent three-point shooting. His defense is still an issue at times and you’d like to see more success from the Wolves, but Love’s year should not go unnoticed.
8. Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
It’s hard to single out one player behind the San Antonio Spurs’ success this season, but Tony Parker would be the guy if you had to do so. His line of 18.2 points and 6.3 assists per game isn’t staggering, though his 51.6 percent shooting certainly could turn some heads. However, it’s clear when you watch him play that he’s the lifeblood of this team and the key to making their well-oiled system run at its best and smoothest.
7. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
His production has been aided by the injury to Paul, but Blake Griffin has looked every bit a star this year. Through 46 games, Griffin is averaging 22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game while hitting 52.7 percent of his shots from the floor and showing noticeable improvement at the foul line with him hitting 71.4 percent of his 8.1 attempts per game. Griffin has been reliable and has consistently stepped up to keep the Clippers relevant with Paul out of action. If that’s not value, I’m not entirely sure what is.
6. DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors
For the year, Toronto Raptors wing DeMar DeRozan has averaged 21.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game on 42.8 percent shooting and 30.8 percent three-point shooting. What vaults him this high on the list, though, is his performance since the Rudy Gay trade. While his scoring numbers and shooting efficiency have remained about the same as his season averages, he’s stepped up more often for the Raps and has become a more versatile weapon for them. With the Raptors streaking towards home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason, DeRozan deserves some recognition for helping lead that charge.
5. Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry is shooting 39 percent from three this season and it’s being called a “slump;” that pretty much says all you need to know about the Golden State Warriors’ point guard and his scoring ability. Curry is averaging a career-high 23.8 points per game this year, but his advancement as a playmaker for the Warriors with an average of a career-high 9.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game have been welcomed by Golden State. If he can continue that while finding his rhythm from the perimeter in terms of shooting again, he could even move up higher on this list than he already is.
4. Paul George - Indiana Pacers
If you wanted “Paul George: NBA star” coming into this season, that’s exactly what the Indiana Pacers forward has delivered upon this year. Averaging 23.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game on 46.1 percent shooting and 38.5 percent three-point shooting, George has shown amazing progression in his offensive ability and has maintained a high level of play on the defensive end as well. He’s been the catalyst for the Pacers’ monster start, which makes him one of the few guys that could possibly challenge the top-two on this list for the MVP.
3. LaMarcus Aldridge - Portland Trail Blazers
There was talk that the Blazers might look to trade LaMarcus Aldridge this season and that he might play like a man who wanted out of town; now that talk seems just ridiculous. Through 44 games, Aldridge is having a career-year at 24.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and one block in 36.9 minutes per game while hitting on 47.6 percent of his shots. Coupling his production, leadership and everything he’s done with Portland’s success and Aldridge is a legitimate MVP candidate and far from an asset the Trail Blazers are looking to deal.
2. LeBron James - Miami Heat
The league’s reigning MVP has been nothing short of amazing this season, but still remains out of the top spot right now. LeBron James has put up big numbers all year, though his 26.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game are all down from his career averages. However, his 58 percent shooting from the floor and solid 37.6 percent shooting from three are remarkable feats in efficiency. If LeBron won yet another MVP, it’d be hard to complain. He’s not number one right now, though.
1. Kevin Durant - Oklahoma City Thunder
This has been the year of Kevin Durant. Averaging 31.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game while still shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three is a remarkable feat in itself. However, it doesn’t even compare to how he’s carried the Oklahoma City Thunder without Russell Westbrook. Since Westbrook went down, Durant is averaging 36.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.4 steals while still being able to shoot 53.2 percent from the floor and 39.2 percent from three. It’s been incredible to see what he’s done. Westbrook will return at some point, but Durant may have already locked up this award by then.
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