A little over a month ago, here’s how my Power Rankings stacked up:
1A) James Harden, PG, HOU (31.6 ppg)
1B) LeBron James, SF, CLE (28.2 ppg)
3) Kyrie Irving, PG, BOS (24 ppg)
4) Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, MIL (29.9)
A LOT has changed in a month so let’s get to some updated rankings
Kevin Durant, SF, GSW, 26.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists
Durant has easily been the most consistent player in the league this year. We’re used to him dropping 26+ points every night, while filling up the stat sheet with assists and rebounds. He’s even playing better defense this year. He’s missed games here and there, mostly due to “rest” or for minor injuries, but if he stays healthy, and the Warriors continue to roll. He’s one of the safest bets for MVP.
Irving’s place in the MVP race is difficult to describe. I see almost no situation he wins it, but there’s also no way he drops out of the top 3 in terms of the discussion. The Celtics are legit, and with the Cavs continuing to be a mess, the Celtics should hold onto the #1 seed in the East. Being the best player on the best team in the East is going to ensure Kyrie continues to get consideration, but it would take an incredible run or a major injury to Durant to justify him winning the award. In other words, his stats, conference opponents, and defense all pale in comparison to Durant’s and that will be difficult to overcome
Harden’s stats still make you saw wow, but a recent injury to his hamstring is threatening his MVP campaign. The greatest ability is availability, and Harden has missed the Rocket’s 6 games. I’d hate to see this injury disrupt his great season, but if he misses a few more games, or needs to time to get back into form, then other, healthier players are going to surge ahead. I also have to mention that epic collapse he had against Boston in December, fouling Marcus Smart TWICE in a row to blow the game foe the Rockets. You can argue about flops and refs all day, but how do you repeat the exact same foul right in front of the ref who JUST called you for it. Bonehead plays like that are remembered, especially in MVP voting.
The next 3:
LeBron James, CLE: The Cavs are a mess, and LeBron tends to fuel team disputes rather than help resolve them. He’s still the best player in the world and there’s a 50/50 chance the Cavs turn this around and win a bunch of games in a row. If that happened, LBJ will be back in the mix.
Steph Curry, GSW: He’s been shooting lights out, but his nagging ankle injuries have kept him out too often to have a realistic shot at the MVP. Durant has been just as good, and more available to his team.
DeMar Derozan, TOR: He’s got better stats than Kyrie, but the Raptors just don’t get any attention. If they can overtake the C’s for the #1 spot in the East, he’ll move up the rankings.