NBA 2018-19: 3 Underrated MVP Candidates
The NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is a prestigious award. It is one of many individual awards given out after the regular season. The other individual awards include Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Sixth Man of the Year. Although those awards are prestigious, the MVP remains the most significant regular season award.
Every year, one special player receives the award for their performance during the regular season. For example, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook won the MVP award in the 2016-2017 season. Westbrook averaged a triple-double with 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. He also had a total of 42 triple-doubles that year. He broke the record for most triple-doubles in a single season, previously held by NBA legend Oscar Robertson. Robertson had 41 triple-doubles in the 1961-1962 season. Westbrook's season was historic and led to his MVP win.
This year, the reigning MVP James Harden is arguably the favorite. After Westbrook won the MVP in the 2016-2017 season, his former teammate James Harden won in 2017-2018. Harden averaged 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, and 5.4 rebounds. He was one of three finalists for the MVP that season. He beat Anthony Davis and LeBron James to win the award. This year, Harden is playing even better.
This season, Harden averages 36.2 points, 7.6 assists, and 6.6 rebounds. Recently, Harden had a streak of 32-straight games with 30 or more points. His streak started in December with a 50-point triple-double against the Los Angeles Lakers. Then, he kept his streak alive until this Monday. His streak is the second longest streak in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain holds the record with a total of 65 consecutive 30-point games. At this point, Harden is the favorite for the MVP award.
But, there are other players that are playing well this season. There are players who are having a tremendous season but are being "overshadowed" by Harden. Here is a list of three players (not named Harden) having MVP calibre seasons.
#3 Stephen Curry
Trust me, I know what you are thinking. Steph Curry? Underrated? In this case, yes. Stephen Curry is having a great season but it is going unnoticed. This season, Curry averages 28.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 5.2 rebounds. This is the second-highest scoring average of his career. Curry won the MVP award in back-to-back seasons with his first win was in the 2014-2015 season.
Curry and the Warriors are at the top of the Western conference, where it's a close fight with the Denver Nuggets. The Milwaukee Bucks, in the East, have a slight advantage over the Warriors at the moment. As of right now, they remain the favorites to come out of the West. They also could be on the verge of another championship. If the Warriors expect to win, Stephen Curry must continue to play at this level and he is certainly capable of doing so.