The start of March means there’s roughly a month-and-a-half before the NBA regular season wraps up, and it won’t be long before we crown the next MVP. Stephen Curry has a firm grip on winning the award for a second year in a row, but how do his competitors stack up?
Here are the top six MVP candidates at the start of March.
6. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are still in control of the East despite chemistry issues on the roster. But don’t lay the blame on James. He’s been carrying the Cavs all along with his team-leading 24.9 points per game.
Cleveland played with a lack of energy on Sunday against the Washington Wizards, falling 113-99 on James’ day off. In his first game back, James scored 33 points to help the Cavaliers beat the Indiana Pacers 100-96 on Monday.
5. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Being on the same team as arguably the best player in the NBA can make it difficult to earn some individual recognition, but Green does just fine with that. With Stephen Curry out against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday because of a sore left ankle, Green stepped up with 15 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and four steals in the Warriors’ 109-105 overtime win. He also somehow hit this off-balance 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 40.2 seconds left in overtime.
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) March 2, 2016
It’s also worth mentioning that Green plays the most minutes (34.5) on Golden State’s roster, and he’s only sat out one game this season.
4. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
The best two-way player in the game might simply be the best player if it weren’t for Curry. Leonard missed three games due to a calf injury but has returned in full force for the Spurs. Against the Utah Jazz last Thursday, he had 29 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in San Antonio’s 96-78 win. He followed that up with 27 points and eight rebounds in a 104-94 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
Leonard is shooting 51.1 percent from the field and an insane 48.8 percent from beyond the arc. He might not put up the same totals as some of the elite scorers in the game, but he’s consistent and he provides something they can’t—good defense.
3. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant, the league’s third-ranked scorer at 27.9 points per game, is gunning for his second MVP award in three years. Consider this: he’s scored at least 20 points in 26 straight games and 11 of those have been for 30-plus points. On top of that, he’s also the Thunder’s top rebounder at 8.1 per game.
Durant captured his first MVP in 2014 when Russell Westbrook had to miss 36 games due to injury. But with Westbrook healthy and playing well, it will be tougher to separate himself as an MVP candidate.
2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook has the second-most triple-doubles this season with nine and the second-most double-doubles with 41. It’s truly remarkable that even while scoring in bunches, he still gets the ball to his teammates. Westbrook is the only player in the NBA averaging 20 points and 10 assists. In Monday’s 131-116 win over the Sacramento Kings, Westbrook had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists for his ninth triple-double.
Durant might be the Thunder’s leading scorer, but the offense runs through Westbrook and his ability to distribute while also getting buckets.
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
If he wins it, Curry will join an elite list of players to win back-to-back MVP awards, which includes: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Moses Malone.
At this point, Curry seem like a lock to win the MVP. He’s leading the league in scoring (30.7) and he set a new record for most 3-pointers in a single season for the third time in the last four years. He’s practically unguardable with his ability to shoot deep 3s, and oh by the way he can make clutch shots.
Warriors’ Stephen Curry hits deep, deep, deep last-second three, his 12th of the game, to beat Thunder in OT pic.twitter.com/1ooiRUEC00
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 28, 2016
Yes, Curry is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP. And unless his competitors do something miraculous in the next couple of months, it should be his.