Who should win the NBA's Most Valuable Player award this season?
That question has become one of the hottest topics with less than 20 games remaining until the playoffs begin, and it's one of the tightest races in recent memory. You can pick any number of candidates names from a bucket and make a strong case for any of them.
Stephen Curry will undoubtedly be in the conversation come award time, but he was asked who he would pick as the MVP of the '16-17 NBA season. Curry went with a Western Conference rival that has his team soaring.
"I'd probably say James [Harden]," Curry told host Dan Patrick of The Dan Patrick Show on Monday, giving the nod to Houston's bearded triple-double machine.
Patrick decided to prod a bit further, asking Curry if he felt Harden's triple-doubles carried more "value" than Harden's former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook. Curry carefully tip-toed around the question, explaining why he'd still go with Harden.
"Probably not much about value, but you have to reward the better team I would think, record-wise. That's just how it's gone in the history of the MVP award, so I think James would probably edge him out just for that."
That has been the case in the past, with players on top-seeded team dominating the award. Curry, who has won the previous two MVP awards, definitely has an uphill battle over the final weeks if he intends to make it a three-peat.
Only three players in NBA history have won the MVP award three times in a row, and the last time it happened was a stretch from the '83-84 season through the '85-86 season. Larry Bird dominated during that period, taking the crown in back-to-back-to-back fashion.
Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain are the other two players who won three MVPs in a row.
Harden has some stiff competition outside of Curry, with Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Westbrook and maybe even a dark horse like Isaiah Thomas in the mix. Steph will likely suffer from "super-team" syndrome, with the addition of Kevin Durant to Golden State detracting from how his impact is measured.
It also hasn't helped that one of the NBA's "big" stories since the All-Star break has been Curry's shooting woes from three-point range. The Spurs have also climbed up to snatch the No. 1 seed from Golden State, with Leonard rising as one of the favorites to capture the award.
Harden's a pretty good pick from Steph, though, and the Houston Rockets have found the fuel they need by unleashing James with a little guidance from the offensive wizardry of head coach Mike D'Antoni. We'll see if Curry nailed this shot from outside in about a month.