Kevin Durant is the reigning MVP, but a foot fracture which required surgery will force him to miss a good chunk of the first part of the season — making his chances of winning the award in consecutive seasons a long shot, at best.
Theoretically, that leaves the door wide open for others to step in.
LeBron James is the overwhelming favorite, just as he was for the bulk of last season before Durant put together a string of impressive scoring performances that helped seal his case in the eyes of the voters. But others could easily sneak into the conversation.
Dwight Howard isn’t a name that immediately comes to mind, and with good reason. His talents are best utilized on the defensive end of the floor, especially playing alongside a ball-dominant pure scorer like James Harden. And while defense is necessary and can be a game-changer, the MVP award typically goes to the best overall player on one of the league’s top two or three teams.
Despite all that may be working against him, along with the presence of several candidates that would appear to be more worthy of consideration on the surface, Hakeem Olajuwon — who is employed by the Rockets and has worked with Howard the past two summers — believes that Howard’s time to compete for the award may be upon us.
At least one former MVP doesn’t think it should have taken a broken bone in Kevin Durant’s foot to throw the 2015 MVP race wide open.
According to Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight Howard was already prepared to kick the door down.
“He’s healthy. He’s strong. He’s ready,” said Olajuwon, who won the award in 1994 when he led the Rockets to the first of their back-to-back championships. “Now it’s about having the attitude to go out every night and dominate.”
Olajuwon is essentially saying that Howard is now fully healthy, and has been provided with all of the tools, both physically and from what he’s been taught, to be able to play at a consistent level that could garner him some legitimate MVP consideration.
But we’re just not seeing it.
A cursory glance around the league gives you a list of guys like Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis — all of whom seem more “ready” to turn in an MVP season than Howard does, each for a variety of reasons. Howard could of course prove everyone wrong, but historically, he’s always been more interested in having fun than focusing on playing the game at its highest level for extended stretches, which is exactly what’s required to truly earn MVP honors.