Is there even an MVP race, or should we just hand the Golden State Warriors Steph Curry the award right now?
Anthony Davis had 59 points and 20 rebounds in the New Orleans Pelicans 111-106 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. It may have been the most impressive offensive performance of the year, but, unfortunately for Davis, it came far too late to resurrect what was supposed to be his MVP season. This is, of course, assuming that any player other than Steph Curry has a legitimate shot at the award this year.
Many preseason psychics (including this one) had Davis as winning the first of many MVP awards this season. Some of this may have to do with an eagerness to move on to the sports next big thing for some, the future always has to be now but Davis really did look to be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Instead, Davis stagnated and his team took a gigantic step back. His numbers have been solid, as of Monday he was averaging 24.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks, but hes marooned in a hopeless situation. He wasnt able to save a hurt, flawed Pelicans team from a calamitous start to the season, and they were out of serious playoff contention before New Years Eve. He has also missed time with injuries, which is starting to become a growing concern.
The truth is that even if Daviss season had gone a lot better, it may not even have mattered. Theres not really an actual MVP race taking place right now. Curry, who is leading the league in points per game and potentially leading his team to a historic regular season record, essentially has a lock on the award despite it only being February.
Could anyone catch Curry? Lets look at whos out there in the MVP discussion and what it would take for them to pull off the, at the very least, highly improbable:
What Anthony Davis needs to do to win the MVP: Davis would have to have 15-20 more games close to the one he had on Sunday. Plus the Pelicans, who cant even see .500 right now, would have to make up enough ground to sneak back in the Western Conference playoffs. Also pretty much every other player ahead of him on this list would have to take a step back.
What LeBron James needs to do to win the MVP: Maybe the biggest thing James would need to do is to improve his unsightly three-point shooting. In an NBA season which has been all about the long distance shot, hes been consistently below the 30% mark. James is still one of the best players in the league, but it hurts his case that hes struggling at the part of the game that everyone is currently focusing on.
What Kawhi Leonard needs to do to win the MVP: Should Golden State somehow stumble, the San Antonio Spurs, who are 3.5 games behind them in the West, would be the ones to directly benefit. Overtaking the Warriors at the top of the standings would be impressive enough to get voters to reward the Spurs when it came to individual honors. If so, theres nobody more important to San Antonio than Leonard, maybe the best two-way player in the league. Leonards value to San Antonio became obvious when the Los Angeles Clippers dominated the Spurs when he sat out the first game coming out of the break.
What Kevin Durant needs to do to win the MVP: Right now, Durant is looking like the first runner up in the MVP voting. To leap ahead of Curry, it might take a season-ending Russell Westbrook injury, which no real basketball fan should hope for, to give Durant the opportunity to carry the Thunder. (Note: switch the names around, and this is also Westbrooks best chance at the MVP.)
And, finally, what Steph Curry needs to do to lose the MVP: Believe it or not, there are things that could happen. If Curry gets injured and misses the rest of the season, that opens things up for one of the other players on this list. Also, he could be banned from the league after its revealed that hes actually practicing witchcraft, which would explain… quite a bit actually. Maybe an accident in nanotech research results in a grey goo apocalypse scenario before the voting period ends? These are all possibilities.
How did LeBron carry the Cavaliers this week?
The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder by 23 points on Sunday, probably their most impressive victory of the season. James had 25 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds in the 115-92 win, which they needed because they were mostly without the assistance of Kyrie Irving. Irving had to withdraw from the game because he was dealing with the consequences of a bed bug attack suffered while sleeping at a (possibly haunted) hotel.
Quote of the week
Its disappointing because we saw the possibilities. But yeah, I would do it over again if it were out there. We did our due diligence. Just thought there was too much risk. – Detroit Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy on his teams voided trade for Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton.
In one of the most divisive deals of Thursdays trade deadline, the Pistons traded Joel Anthony and a protected first round pick to the Houston Rockets for Motiejunas and Thornton. For some, it seemed like Detroit was giving up too much, especially since one of the players, Motiejunas, was dealing with lingering back injuries that had already limited the number of games he was playing in Houston.
Apparently, the Pistons medical staff shared those concerns, because the entire deal ended up being voided after Motiejunas failed a physical. While Van Gundy claims to be disappointed, the Pistons arent going to suffer the worst consequences following this non-deal. The Rockets might be the biggest losers here, as not only will they not receive the Pistons pick, the only thing of value they managed to get during the deadline, getting the players back will put them over the luxury tax.
The consequences dont end there. The Rockets had planned to escape the luxury tax by flipping Anthony to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers needed to make room on the roster for Anthony, so they cut JaKarr Sampson. Unfortunately for them, thats a move that cant be undone. Sampson has since signed with the Denver Nuggets, meaning the 76ers lost him for absolutely no reason.
Video of the week
Sometimes sports should be secondary. Oklahoma City Thunder associate head coach Monty Williams gave a eulogy for his wife Ingrid, who died earlier this month in a car accident, which ended up being a powerful call for forgiveness even under the most profoundly difficult of circumstances. Its also a remarkable remembrance of a woman whose absence continues to be felt across the league.
Ingrid Williams was 44 years old.
1. Golden State Warriors (1)
The Warriors came out of the All-Star break and immediately suffered their worst loss of the season, getting blown out by the Portland Trial Blazers 137-105. Despite this, the Warriors still managed to become the fastest team to get to 50 wins in NBA history.
2. San Antonio Spurs (2)
The day before the Warriors lost to the Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers blew out the Spurs 105-86. Thankfully, their next two games were against the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, so the losing didnt last long.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3)
This Thunder fan screaming just suck it up LeBron got off relatively lightly (a snarky guess she showed me response from the man himself) compared to the televised humiliation of the woman who attempted to make the cry-baby gesture at him back in December. Maybe the Thunder loss itself was humiliation enough.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (4)
Before being blown out by Cleveland, the Thunder lost to the Indiana Pacers 101-98. Clearly this is a large enough sample size to blame the bulk of Oklahoma Citys post All-Star break troubles on Thursdays trade for Randy Foye.
5. Toronto Raptors (6)
Will the Raptors regret not making a big move during the trade deadline, or will they be relieved that they kept their core together? Well, right now, they are only three spots below the Cavaliers for second place in the Eastern Conference.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (5)
Let the Clippers social media team show you how not to pretend everything is fine between your suspended star forward and the dude he punched:
Note: We had to use a screen cap here because, no surprise here, the Clippers removed the tweet, but not before the internet had gotten to it.
7. Boston Celtics (8)
The Celtics supposedly couldnt complete a super-secret mega-trade at the deadline (some rumors have the target as being Philadelphias Jahlil Okafor). Instead, the Celtics said that they were happy with the team they had and then promptly lost two of their next three games.
8. Miami Heat (10)
Right now, Miamis primary concern right now is the health of Chris Bosh, whose career might be in jeopardy now that the blood clots that ended his season last year have possibly returned.
9. Atlanta Hawks (9)
As per usual, not a lot to say about the serviceable, dependable Hawks, so heres a clip of Steph Curry clowning old friend Kent Bazemore during the Warriors 102-92 win over Atlanta on Monday:
10. Indiana Pacers (11)
11. Dallas Mavericks (12)
The Mavericks hope to shore up their squad of inexplicably productive veterans by picking up David Lee, who the Celtics waived last week.
12. Portland Trail Blazers (15)
Damian Lillard team put up 51 points, 7 assists & 6 steals against Golden State on Friday, firmly establishing the kind of ridiculous individual performance it takes to blow out the Warriors.
13. Memphis Grizzlies (7)
The Grizzlies have lost Marc Gasol for the season and have replaced him with Lance Stephenson.
14. Charlotte Hornets (13)
The Hornets are currently on a five-game win streak. Charlotte might be a legitimately good team, but theyll miss Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
15. Chicago Bulls (14)
I dont think I will ever comprehend a world where Kirk Hinrich is not a Bull.
16. Detroit Pistons (17)
If it ends up that the whole voided deal with Houston was just Van Gundy messing with Dwight Howards current team, he officially won the trade deadline.
17. Utah Jazz (16)
Shelvin Mack, freshly acquired from the Hawks, scored 16 points in his Utah debut, which was apparently good enough for the offensively challenged Jazz that it counted as dazzling.
18. Houston Rockets (18)
The Rockets now have two players they essentially traded (Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Thornton) and at least two players they were desperately attempting to trade (Dwight Howard, Ty Lawson). Good luck with that locker room, Houston.
19. Washington Wizards (19)
I aint trying to waste a season, says Wizards point guard John Wall. Well, nonetheless, its happening.
20. New Orleans Pelicans (25)
The Pelicans are only this high thanks to Daviss Sunday afternoon heroics. Enjoy your one week in the earned a sentence portion of the power rankings, New Orleans.
21. Orlando Magic (20)
22. Sacramento Kings (21)
23. Milwaukee Bucks (24)
24. New York Knicks (23)
25. Denver Nuggets (22)
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (26)
27. Brooklyn Nets (27)
28. Los Angeles Lakers (28)
29. Phoenix Suns (30)
30. Philadelphia 76ers (29)