MVP race tightest in years - James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry deserve credit

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The NBA season is winding down, and there is no generally agreed upon favorite for the MVP race. Players have separated themselves from the rest of the pact and that's the problem. Players have, one player has not.

Tight race

How do you compare Russell Westbrook's nine triple doubles (and what could be 10) to Steph Curry's consistent performance? Or how about James Harden's eight 40-point-games to Anthony Davis's 31.1 Player Efficiency Rating? 

And of course, Lebron James is once again putting up mind-blowing numbers that only he could make seem unimpressive. Last time I checked, 25.7 points, 7.3 assists, and 5.9 rebounds usually warrant an MVP conversation.

Let's first eliminate the two that deserve honorable mentions but are not going to win it, by no fault of their own.

Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis has simply missed too many games. He might be the best two-way player in the league right now, leading the league in blocks per game and ranking seventh in field goal percentage, and might be even good enough to start a new eyebrow (that's right, singular) trend, but he has played only 59 games with the season winding down. Only 59 mind-blowing games.

Davis will win the award in a few years time, barring injury, but this year he just was not healthy enough.

LeBron James

This next elimination is due to the "Lebron Affect." The King is a four time winner, James has once again proved he is the best on the planet with an orange Spalding in his hands, but he's been too good for too long.

People get tired of seeing James's name engraved on the trophy, and voters are no exception.

His numbers are once again from another world, however, they have dropped a little bit from previous seasons. Although we would all be in awe of these numbers were another player to put them out, Lebron makes it routine. All apologies, Lebron, but you're too good for your own good.

Three horse race

That leaves three players in contention, and all with pretty good cases. Steph Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook have all had MVP calibre seasons. Westbrook has had the most eye-poppers, but he's also missed a lot of games and is still fighting to make it to the eight seed. Meanwhile, Curry and Harden have been dependable all year long, but lack the nine triple doubles (a stat that deserves to be repeated) and level of consistent dominance.

Russell Westbrook

Westbrook has the brightest spots, but also the most flaws in his MVP CV. He leads the league in points per game, is fifth in assists, and is first in rebounds for any guard. Wow.

Westbrook really has graced us with one of the most individually unfathomable performances in the era this season.

However, Westbrook is held back by his disparity in games played, and by his struggle for the eight seed. It seems unfair to hold these against him, especially the second, playing in the Western Conference without Kevin Durant for the majority of games (the league's defending MVP), but voters will. They will to Davis, and they will to Westbrook. 

James Harden

Enter James Harden. The bearded baller has missed one game this whole season and his defensive improvements are very noticeable. Although he still has work to do when he is not trying to score, there will be no mini-film of Harden's defensive lapses this year. 

Harden has had a few amazing games himself, as well, including a 44-point performance that he played 32 minutes in. Another game, he netted 45 on 18 shots. Similarly to Westbrook, Harden astounded most when his co-star was injured. Harden's Rockets sit comfortably at third in the Western Conference, despite Dwight Howard playing only 35 games. 

Steph Curry

Finally, Steph Curry has done it all this year. We know and we have known for a while that the guy can fill it up, and is bound to be one of the best shooters of all time. We loved his shooting, but didn't know he could dish 7.9 assists, score 23.7 a game. Even more surprisingly, Curry finished in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive win shares, the only MVP candidate to qualify for both.

Yet, Curry's most unbelievable feat this year has been to lead the Warriors to a 60-13 throne of the West, having the one spot clinched with a good bit left in the season. His performances have the Warriors sitting starters already, as Draymond Green missed his last game with "Blake-itis."

The Warriors aren't just fun to watch, they're one of the best teams we've seen for years.

Up in the air

There's no use in trying to read the voters. In previous years, we didn't have to worry about trying; there were always clear favorites. This year supplies a new, or at least forgotten, intrigue into the season however because  for the first time in almost a decade, nobody knows who is going to win the MVP.

What do you think NBA fans? Which Superstar will be getting your vote? Let us know in the comments section below...

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James Harden
Houston Rockets
Southwest Division
Western Conference
NBA Playoffs
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference

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