Go ahead and make your case for James Harden, it’s a good one. Russell Westbrook admits he wants to win the MVP this year and has played well enough the last couple months to be in consideration. If your criteria is the best player, it’s still LeBron James. Chris Paul has some staunch backers.
Oddsmakers care about none of it — they care about who is likely to win and who the bettors are putting their money on.
They have Stephen Curry far ahead as the MVP favorite. Here are the latest odds courtesy online gaming site Bovada:
Stephen Curry 1/4
James Harden 3/1
Russell Westbrook 5/1
LeBron James 25/1
It seems trendy to pick against Curry, dismissing the “best player on the best team” argument out of hand. But Curry is averaging 23.7 points a game shooting 43.4 percent from three, he’s dishing out 7.8 assists a game, plus he is the focal point of one of the NBA’s top two offenses. He has a PER of 28 (third in the league), and he’s second in win shares. If you want value to his team, the Warriors are 16.9 points worse per 100 possessions when he is off the court.
Curry is going to win this award. More than that, he’s earned it.
You can make a good case for Anthony Davis to be the MVP — he’s scoring 24.7 points a game on 54 percent shooting, he’s pulling down 10.4 rebounds a game and blocking 2.9 shots a night. His PER of 31.1 this season would be not only the best in the NBA this season but in the top 10 all time (with Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan).
But he’s not going to win it, not on a Pelicans team that will miss the playoffs. He should be on voter’s five-deep ballots, but he’s not going to win it.
Who should? If you ask Davis, he says James Harden.
“It’s tough. A lot of guys are playing out of their mind. James Harden, Russ (Westbrook), Steph (Curry), LeBron (James)…
“(Harden is) out of his mind. He’s definitely playing out of his mind. We talk about this on my team every day. It’s like every day. I think with him not having Dwight [Howard] for as much as he did, and he still competed and is still winning games for them, it’s unreal.”
Harden and Stephen Curry seem to be the frontrunners right now. Russell Westbrook and LeBron James seem just half a step back as momentum builds for the vote. Davis is on the outside looking in, Chris Paul has people making his case — and he’s been making it on the court lately — but he seems to be coming from too far behind in most voters’ eyes.
None of that is fair; any one of those guys could claim legitimate claim to the crown. But the smart money is on Curry.
Depends on what day you ask me.
Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: DeMar DeRozan went Harden on Harden
1) DeMar DeRozan out Hardened James Harden. What James Harden does better than anyone is relentlessly attack. He’s going to get to the line, he’s going to hit a couple ridiculous shots, he’s going to put the pressure on your defense. He did all that against the Toronto Raptors Monday on his way to 31 points — but DeMar DeRozan did them better. He got to the free throw line 17 times; he hit a couple ridiculous turn-around jumpers, and in the end he put up 42 points. More importantly, his struggling Toronto Raptors picked up an important win. (Memphis would like to thank him as well, as they move back to the two seed.
2) Kyle Korver is a T-2000 terminator sent from the future to shoot threes and destroy the NBA. How else do you explain his 11 points in 65 seconds?
3) Avery Bradley helped Boston stay right in the playoff mix. Boston picked up a key win in their drive to make the playoffs Monday dropping 116 points on Charlotte — Boston had an offensive rating of 129.5 (points per 100 possessions). The key was Boston had fantastic ball movement for the night, and that plays right into Avery Bradley’s game — he moves better off the ball and finds space better than he sometimes gets credit for. He was finding that space at the top of the key area and on wing threes. With the win, Boston moved back into the eight seed in the east past Brooklyn for a night in a battle that will go on right up until the final night of the season.
4) Jordan Clarkson hits game winner to the frustration of Lakers’ fans. This is Adam Silver’s nightmare: The Lakers and Sixers faced off Monday night, and large swaths of both fan bases were rooting for their favorite team to lose. It’s all about the lottery balls; the Sixers had the third-worst record in the NBA while the Lakers were fourth. If Philly had won just one game would have separated the two, but instead Jordan Clarkson hit the game winner in OT, and the Lakers picked up the road win. With that, LA has a three-game lead over Philly and is going to finish with the fourth worst record. (If, after the lottery, the Lakers have top 5 pick they get to keep it, if not it goes to Philly, all stemming from the Steve Nash trade. The Lakers have about an 80 percent chance of keeping that pick as fourth worst.) Both of these franchises should just be glad right now the NBA doesn’t have relegation like European soccer.
“They need a center with a big butt to hold space,’’ Rosen told The Post. “They didn’t have anybody like that. It takes away a major portion of what you can do with the triangle because then it really becomes just a perimeter offense.’’
He suggests Greg Monroe would be a better fit than drafting someone like Karl Towns out of Kentucky.
First, Rosen isn’t wrong in that the Knicks need a presence inside. Although I would suggest what the Knicks need more than anything is talent upgrades pretty much anywhere they can get one, getting a presence inside is part of that.
Second, it brings up another question discussed around New York (and parts of the NBA): Can Phil Jackson’s version of the triangle still work and still win in the NBA? That triangle looked great when the ball could just be thrown into Shaq in the post, but will that still work in a zone-defense/overload world where before Shaq gets the ball on the block the double team is already there? NBA defenses have changed and if you haven’t adapted — as the Spurs, Hawks, Warriors and other teams have done — you’ll struggle. Will that slow down the Knicks’ recovery?
Hard to tell until they get more talent on the roster.
DeMar DeRozan scores career-high 42 points in Raptors’ win over Rockets (VIDEO)
Monday night’s game between the Raptors and the Rockets had major playoff implications for both teams, but it also featured a terrific back-and-forth battle between James Harden and DeMar DeRozan. Harden is the MVP candidate, but tonight, DeRozan got the better of him. He scored a career-high 42 points in the Raptors’ 99-96 win.
DeRozan set the career high with this jumper, which extended the Raptors’ lead to three with 18 seconds left in the game and ultimately sealed the victory.
With this win, the Raptors move to 44-30 on the season. They trail the Bulls by one game for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The loss dropped the Rockets back into the third seed out west.