5 biggest NBA MVP snubs of the 21st century

Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James have always been a part of the NBA MVP conversation.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James have always been a part of the NBA MVP conversation.
Evan Tiwari

The 21st century has seen some terrific NBA MVP campaigns, with the likes of Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo ruling the roost. However, there have been some players who were clearly snubbed for the NBA MVP award when they deserved to win.

Five biggest NBA MVP snubs of the 2000s:

There was a heated debate about last year's NBA MVP award, as many fans and analysts believed that LeBron James deserved the honor over Giannis Antetokounmpo.

There have been other instances of a more deserving player missing out on the NBA MVP award. On that note, let's take a look at the five biggest NBA MVP snubs of the 21st century.

#5 Chris Paul (2007-08)

Utah Jazz vs Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz vs Phoenix Suns

Popularly known as the 'Point God', Chris Paul was the starting point guard for the then New Orleans Hornets, putting up a staggering 21 points, 11.6 assists (league-high), four rebounds and a league-high 2.7 steals per game.

Chris Paul played the role of a point guard to perfection, finding his teammates throughout the NBA campaign with his inch-perfect passes and showing active, hands-on defense.

However, the NBA MVP award that year went to LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who averaged 28 points, six rebounds and five assists per game that season.

Kobe Bryant led the LA Lakers to the top spot in the West, but Paul's Hornets were just one win away from having a similar record. Chris Paul also had a comparatively weaker team than the 'Black Mamba', which made his case for the NBA MVP award even stronger.

#4 LeBron James (2010-11)

Atlanta Hawks vs LA Lakers
Atlanta Hawks vs LA Lakers

In the 2010-11 season, LeBron James moved to the Miami Heat to join forces with fellow NBA superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in a well-documented move. However, that decision made him a media villain, who later played a role in the NBA MVP voting.

Despite putting up 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists that season, James came second to the Chicago Bulls' young guard Derrick Rose.

Rose had an impressive NBA campaign for a 22-year-old, producing 25 points, 4.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. But LeBron James was a force of nature that season, tallying the highest win share for any player in the NBA (15.6).

He made winning plays at both ends of the floor, and it is safe to say that he deserved the MVP award over Derrick Rose in the 2010-11 NBA campaign.

Also Read: NBA 2020-21: 5 Most impactful free agency moves of the season.

#3 Kobe Bryant (2006-07)

Sacramento Kings vs LA Lakers
Sacramento Kings vs LA Lakers

It's difficult to come to grips with the fact that 5-time NBA champion and 2-time Finals MVP winner Kobe Bryant was adjudged to have the best regular season in the league only once in his glorious career.

He was snubbed for the NBA MVP award multiple times, but the biggest one came in 2006, where Bryant lost to the popular Steve Nash despite averaging 35.4 points per game over an incredible campaign.

Nash's range of passing and efficient shooting helped him bag one of his two NBA MVP awards, but it was Bryant who was more deserving of the award that year.

#2 Shaquille O'Neal (2000-01)

XXVI Summer Olympic Games
XXVI Summer Olympic Games

After winning the prestigious award in the 1999-00 season, the then-LA Lakers' dominant center Shaquille O'Neal was extremely unlucky to miss out on the NBA MVP award the next season.

A victim of voter fatigue, perhaps, O'Neal lost out to the Philadelphia 76ers' diminutive guard Allen Iverson, whose flashy handles and averages of 31 points, 4.6 assist and 2.5 steals were enough for the voters to sway in his favor.

Nevertheless, Shaquille O'Neal was virtually unplayable that regular season, tallying a brilliant 28.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 14.9 win shares, as compared to Iverson's 11.8, making him an obvious choice to win the NBA MVP award.

#1 James Harden (2014-15)

New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets
New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets

Probably the most controversial pick of the bunch, James Harden lost out to the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry for the NBA MVP award in the 2014-15 season.

Despite putting up monster numbers for a not-so-good Houston Rockets side which featured players like Chandler Parsons and a post-prime Dwight Howard, the voters went with the ace 3-point shooter, Stephen Curry.

Harden averaged an incredible 27.4 points, seven assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game, as opposed to Curry's figures of 23.8, 7.7, 4.3, and two, respectively.

Another reason why Curry got the award was that he played in a stacked team that had players like MIP candidate Draymond Green and All-Star Klay Thompson ready to bail him out. By contrast, Harden rode solo that year and that definitely cost him the MVP trophy.

Also Read: 2020-21 NBA season: How does the NBA play-in tournament work?

Edited by Bhargav


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