USA TODAY Sports. Pictured (left to right): James Harden (13), Anthony Davis (23), LeBron James (23), Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), Stephen Curry (30).
- What if the NBA season ended today? Who would win MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Executive of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year?
- Matt Moore and Rob Perez take a look at the landscape 10 games into the 2018-19 NBA season.
The NBA season may be just 10 games old, but it’s never too early to discuss the major end-of-the-year awards.
As opposed to the traditional “Here’s why Player X can win the MVP award,” we’re going to try something different — let’s pretend like the season ended today for the following awards:
- Most Valuable Player
- Rookie of the Year
- Sixth Man of the Year
- Most Improved Player
- Coach of the Year
- Executive of the Year
- Defensive Player of the Year
Most Valuable Player
WOB: Steph Curry is averaging 5.9 made 3s per game. That’s not a typo. If he manages to keep this historic pace over 82 games, he would finish the season with almost 500 made 3-pointers.
The 72-win 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, arguably the greatest NBA team of all time, made 544. As in like every player on the roster combined.
How is it even feasible that this guy can get better from his unanimous MVP season?
Curry is averaging a career-high 32.5 points per game (best in the NBA) and his 31.3 player efficiency rating (PER) is his best since the 2015-16 season.
We could sit here for hours rattling off statistics and posting highlights about how good this guy is, but it ultimately comes down to two things for me:
1. Steph has overtaken Draymond Green as the most important player on the game’s greatest roster. His usage rate is 31.7%, the second-highest of his career, and simply put, he is the one player the team cannot afford to lose. The entire offense revolves around his ability to stretch defenses 35-feet from the rim and it’s making life easier for everyone else involved.
2. Steph already has the ever-important “did you just see that? yup, he’s the MVP” moment.
Every MVP winner has one — the night Westbrook broke the triple-double record, Harden’s crossover of Wesley Johnson on national television — and Steph’s came early, a the 51-point game vs. the Wizards where it seemed like almost half of his 11 three-pointers were from the logo.
I mean … come on:
Note: Klay Thompson caught up to Curry in that last category.
MOORE: I’m with you on this one. If Curry continues at this pace, he can just overwhelm everyone else. He’ll win the narrative vote behind a return to what made 2016 so magical for everyone: effortlessly knocking down 3-pointers.
Let’s be clear on this: Despite how much Curry fans think he is “disrespected,” the media at large LOVES Steph for good reason and wants to vote for him.
Curry is a much more endearing figure than Kevin Durant because he didn’t spearhead his recruiting and he took a step back to help get Durant comfortable. No one took less heat on the Warriors than Curry when KD joined. If anything, he became a sympathetic figure.
Going forward, though, keep an eye on Anthony Davis.
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This sure feels like the 2004 season, when Kevin Garnett won MVP, and the Timberwolves made a playoff run — only it won’t be another three years before Davis is dealt if things fall apart.
The Pelicans fell apart with Davis out last Thursday against the Blazers, and even though they got stomped by the Spurs in his return, they should start racking up wins again.
That differential will weigh heavy with voters who ignore context in opponent and other factors and will just see “they suck without him.”