NBA: Top five MVP 2013-14 candidates

Author : Sai Krishnan

One of the most eagerly anticipated and certainly the most prestigious individual accolade is that of the MVP. The league’s MVP is the best player on the planet during the course of that particular season.

Last year’s MVP race was a blowout. Half way through the season, we all knew that LeBron James was going to win the crown for the 4th time in the last 5 years. This season’s MVP race though, promises to be much more interesting. Many players have shown a phenomenal amount of improvement over the course of the last season and they’ll all be in contention for the award.

While a handful players have it in them to bag the award, there’s only one winner. Who’s it going to be?

5. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

The youngest player ever to win an MVP, Derrick Rose spent the whole of last season on the bench after he tore his ACL. He’s probably one of the most talented, explosive and dynamic players in the league. However, he hasn’t played a competitive game of basketball since over a year. That’s the reason he’s been placed this low on this list.

He won the title back in 2010-11, at the age of 22. He cut short LeBron’s streak at two. LeBron won it for two years before the 2010-11 season and he’s won it for two straight years after it.

While it’s downright idiotic to expect Rose to be back at his MVP level of play right from the word go, one can be fairly certain that after a few initial games, Rose would regain his elite level of play.

If Rose continues to remain healthy, he would be the best contender to take the title from LeBron this season.

4. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard Photo Shoot

Howard had a bad season last year. Or so everyone thinks. Howard’s level of play dropped, but he still remained one of the league’s best centers last year.

D12 led the league in rebounding for the fifth time in his career last season. He stood second in field goal percentage, came fifth in blocks and scored an amazing 18 PPG to top it all of. He was as perfect a center as anybody can possibly imagine.

And this was one of Howard’s “poor” seasons.

This year, he’s “The Man” at Houston. He has a team around him that resembles the one he had in Orlando (where he arguably spent his best seasons). There’s no Kobe Bryant to badger him and this also means Howard would see more of the ball. It’s expected that he would get along better with Houston’s star guard, James Harden.

If Howard can improve on his last year’s performance, and I am sure he will, he’ll be one of the legitimate contenders for the MVP title this year.

3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Clippers - Game One

The best ball handler in the league right now, and that includes Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. Paul does everything that’s expected of him, and more.

He’s one of the best floor generals in the league. His incredible quickness and amazing court vision are what make him the best in the business. Paul’s at his prime and is coming off a spectacular season. He averaged 16.9 PPG, 9.7 APG and 2.4 SPG.

The 6 foot point guard even averaged nearly 4 RPG last season and ranked 3rd in PER last season, with 26.43, trailing the two players who finished above him in the MVP Ballot last year, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. He led the league in steals and came second in APG, behind Rajon Rondo.

What makes Paul so special is that irrespective of the team he plays for, he makes them and everyone around him better. He’s a player who doesn’t need an MVP award to show to the world how valuable he is to his team.

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four

Durant is one of the purest shooters in the league. The only player to average a scoring efficiency of 90/50/40 (inside, mid range, 3 point), Durant is one of the most versatile and graceful players on the planet. He’s also one of the hardest working players.

His scoring ability is unmatched at the moment. He was the scoring leader three out of the last four years, being edged out by a mere 0.6 PPG last season. He also averaged 8 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.4 SPG and 1.3 BPG. He stood second in PER Ratings with 28.8.

Durant’s just 25 years old, and it’s scary to think how good he is, at this young age. He hasn’t even reached his prime yet which means he’s just going to get better and better.

He may or may not win the MVP title this year, but we can expect this guy to collect a handful in the future.

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Four

 

There really isn’t anything left to say about LeBron “King” James. The best player on the planet, he’s won 4 MVP awards in the last season. He’s 28, supposedly at his prime, but is just getting better with year after year.

James is one of the most dominating, physical players in the NBA. He averaged 26.8 PPG, 8 RPG, 7.3 APG and 1.7 SPG at .565 Field goal efficiency. He led the league in PER last season, with 29.6. He also led Miami Heat to their second consecutive season last year.

He’s coming off his best year so far, and he seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. He’s healthy, and every aspect of his game seems to be improving. He’s emerged as a leader of the Heat, now that Wade’s level of play seems to be dwindling down.

This season, yet again, James is the prime candidate for the MVP award. If he can do anything remotely close to last season, he’ll probably walk away with the award. Can he win the award for the 5th time in 6 years?

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