The inevitable MVP race is officially underway, and scoring-machine Stephen Curry continues to prove why he is likely to defend his title.
As well as leading the NBA in scoring this season with 29.8 points per game, reigning MVP Curry remains the central piece of the defending champions Golden State Warriors (48-4), who look stronger than ever.
A year ago, Houston Rockets guard James Harden seemed the closest contender to beat Curry in the MVP race, but as this season moves on, a number of contenders – including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Chris Paul and DeMar DeRozan – have taken the league by storm, putting big performances night in, night.
If Harden is to be back into the MVP conversation, he will need to push the Rockets (27-28) among the playoff contenders, which is not the case right now.
For most of the season, the Rockets have experienced worrying inconsistency. They sacked head coach Kevin McHale in November, centre Dwight Howard has already missed out 11 regular-season games due to injury, and Harden, who trails Curry in the scoring sheet with a team-high 28 points per contest, doesn’t seem to be making much difference.
Given that the Rockets are only 24-24 under interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, it’s clear at this point McHale wasn’t the root of the problem.
As the second-half of the season – after the All-Star break – gets underway on Friday morning, Durant, Curry’s predecessor, emerges as a genuine contender although Westbrook can enter the MVP race at any time.
But Durant’s 27.7 points per contest – in 47 games – have proven vital for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the No 3 in the Western conference.
In the Eastern conference 4-time MVP LeBron James remains the Cleveland Cavaliers’ engine, and running for his 5th MVP seems quite a legitimate quest.
Although Kyle Lowry is often credited for the Toronto Raptors’ impressive campaign, DeRozan – the team leading scorer – remains as crucial.
There are only 30 games left in the regular-season, let the battle continue, May is just around the corner.