Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game 1

51 Questions: Who will win MVP?


PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Who will win MVP?

Last season, before the games that mattered tipped off, it felt like MVP would be a two-man race, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Nobody saw Stephen Curry taking the steps he did, nor James Harden stepping up when every other Rocket went down. It became a two-man race nobody had expected before the season.

Who will step up this year? Or will the favorites rise to the top (which is what we all pick)? This season the MVP race feels far more wide open, the oddsmakers see it that way. So we asked the PBT staff who their predictions for MVP would be, and for once they all agreed.

Kurt Helin — LeBron James

This is a boring pick. It would be far more fun to say Durant will bounce back, or Anthony Davis will make that big a leap, or Curry will repeat — and any of that could happen. This is a fairly open race. But I think LeBron is on a mission and will have his best all-around season, he will be the best player on the best team, average 25-7-7, and pick up his fifth MVP award.

Dan Feldman — LeBron James

The race looks a little more open than recent years, with Anthony Davis ready to rise and Kevin Durant healthy. But it has bothered LeBron to lose this award the last couple years. He’s also readying himself for the regular season. I think he makes it count.

Sean Highkin — LeBron James

There’s no perfect choice going into the year. Kevin Durant will be on a mission after missing most of last season, but foot injuries are tricky and I don’t trust he can stay healthy for a full year. Anthony Davis’ Pelicans might not win enough games, which unfortunately tends to factor into the voting more than it should. The past few years, I’ve loved Blake Griffin as a sleeper pick, but he and Chris Paul will probably split votes out of the Clippers’ roster. This is one of the last years LeBron will be a serious candidate — he’s 31 and will inevitably start to decline physically soon. The Cavs are starting the year without Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, and with Kevin Love limited at the very least. Tristan Thompson‘s contract situation still hasn’t been resolved. So, we’re back to where Cleveland was in the playoffs, with James having to do everything himself. If the Cavs get a high seed with all of these setbacks, it’ll be hard to argue James doesn’t deserve it.

Vintage Kevin Durant drops 23 on Denver (VIDEO)

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant looks healthy. That should make 29 NBA teams nervous.

Durant had 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting in the Thunder’s 111-98 win over the Nuggets. And as you can see from the video above, he was scoring in a variety of ways.

It’s good to have KD back.

Report: Lamar Odom improving, starting some physical therapy

Lamar Odom

Over the past several days, Lamar Odom has shown steady and impressive improvement. He is breathing on his own, speaking, and moving around some, which are big steps since days ago there were serious doubts he would survive after he was found unconscious in a brothel outside Las Vegas following a several day binge. Everything seemed a little less dire.

Now doctors are ready to take the next steps in assessing the level of damage Odom has suffered, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Odom has not experienced any setbacks after breathing without the help of a ventilator in the past three days. He showing marked improvement with his breathing, vision and the ability to have simple conversations, sources said.

Odom is slated to begin physical therapy that will show whether the 35-year-old former basketball player can walk, said sources familiar with Odom’s progression. But it remains unclear how well he can navigate that challenge.

Odom has experienced frequent fatigue and has received constant treatment on his lungs and kidneys, sources said. Odom could also have serious brain damage considering a 911 call released last Wednesday reported Odom took cocaine and 10 doses of a sexual performance enhancer over three days.

It is expected Odom will have some degree of brain damage after this incident, the question is how much, and doctors are just now going to start to find that out. This is where Odom likely discovers the price of his addiction.

Also Sunday, the Lakers’ Metta World Peace — who grew up near Odom, they have known each other since they were 11 and were on the same AAU team — expressed concern that so many people were showing up to see Odom it was crowding out time for his two kids to spend time with him. World Peace said it was one thing if Odom’s estranged wife Khloe Kardashian was there with him — she has not left his side in days — but another for the rest of the Kardashian family to be there.

Mavericks’ rookie Maurice Ndour out with stress reaction in leg

Maurice Ndour
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Maurice Ndour, the rookie out of Ohio, turned some heads at the Summer League with his play for the Knicks. Some of those heads belonged to decision makers with the Mavericks, who signed him to a guaranteed contract for this season.

Ndour looked good through the four preseason games, but he could be out a while according to this report from Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Stress reactions mean the player is feeling pain due to the stress and load on the leg — look at it as him being is on his way to a stress fracture (if not there already). There is pain, and he needs time off the leg, and then he may be on a minutes limit when he returns (at least for a while). This could mean a few weeks, a month, or a few months off, just depends on the severity of the injury, the location, and how it heals.

This could cost Ndour a roster spot.

Dallas is going to have some interesting decisions as they cut players over the next week. Ndour is one of 15 players with a guaranteed deal on the Dallas roster, but that does not include JaVale McGee (likely to get a roster spot), Jamil Wilson, and Dwight Powell. If Dallas wants to keep any of them, they have to waive and pay a guy with a guaranteed deal, a guy like Ndour (or Salah Mejri or Samuel Dalembert). Dallas has liked what Ndour brings, but it’s a numbers game and they have some tough decisions to make coming up.

Lakers may shut Kobe Bryant down for final two preseason games

Kobe Bryant
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Kobe Bryant played in the first four Lakers preseason games and showed some strong moments and some others where he was clearly trying to shake off the rust of having missed far more games than he played the past two seasons.

Then, in game five, he suffered a bruised calf, he’ll have missed two games by the end of Monday night and that may be the end of his preseason as the Lakers take the cautious approach. But he’ll be ready to roll when the games matter. That’s what Laker coach Byron Scott said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

“To be honest with you, [Bryant] probably won’t play [Monday],” Scott said after practice Sunday. “I’d rather get him close to 100 percent as possible. These games don’t mean anything right now. It’s really giving me a chance to look at these young guys anyway.”

Scott said Bryant might not play again this preseason. The Lakers have two games left: Monday and Thursday against the Warriors. “There’s a chance,” Scott said. “I’m not going to put a percentage on it, but there’s a chance….”

But Scott said he is confident that Bryant will “absolutely” play in the Lakers’ regular-season opener Oct. 28 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.

Shutting him down is the smart thing to do, a lot of teams are are sitting stars for the rest of the preseason to keep them fresh for the start of the season. LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers is the best-known example.

What matters is that Kobe will be playing once the games have some meaning in 10 days. We hope. If there is one thing I want for Kobe Bryant this season it is just to stay healthy, starting with getting his calf right.