Somehow, the fact that Curry did not even consider himself was almost completely overlooked.
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Curry isn’t doing as well as he did last season, but his per game averages of 25.0 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals are arguably better than the ones he put up in his first MVP season.
One factor in deciding who wins MVP is often team success. The Golden State Warriors are the NBA’s best team and they’ll probably win at least 65 games this season. Shouldn’t that alone help boost Curry’s case?
Well, not really. Curry’s team is actually so good it’s hurting his chances at MVP. As in, he’s not even in the discussion.
If the Warriors had brought back their same team from last season that might not be the case, but Golden State shook up the entire NBA landscape and added Kevin Durant to the roster.
KD and Curry combined to win the last last three MVP awards. Them being on the same roster means they won’t be winning any more of those trophies anytime soon, mostly because it’s difficult to tell which of them is the most valuable player on the Warriors, much less the NBA.
Durant is probably the better overall player, but no team of his has ever won 73 games.
The Warriors are winning fewer games than that this season for a few reasons, one of which is the inevitable process of integrating one of the greatest offensive players ever into one of the greatest offenses ever.
That shouldn’t really be held against Durant, who was averaging 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks per game before his unfortunate injury that will hold him out for at least the next three games, plus the last 17 contests.
And while Curry has been better at three-point shooting this season. Durant converted on over 60 percent of his shots within the arc before his injury. Curry is making those shots at a nearly 54 percent clip, but since Durant takes more twos his field goal percentage is higher.
No matter which one is better, the fact that it’s close makes it nearly impossible for either of them to win MVP.
The last dynamic duo as good as Curry and Durant was probably Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and it’s no surprise that for the duration of their time together with the Los Angeles Lakers the pair won a combined one MVP award.
With how good both Shaq and Kobe were, it seems impossible that that’s true, but it is. Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan may not have been as good, but they were clearly the best player on their team during the years they won the award.
And that takes us to the name itself: most valuable player. There has been a fierce debate about which team would survive better without its MVP candidate: the Houston Rockets or the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers might function better than the Rockets or Thunder without their MVPs, but neither team would be a contender or even that close without their top dog.
The Warriors have won 11 straight games, all without Durant around. We haven’t seen Golden State go on an extended run without Curry, but it’s fair to assume they would be damn good with a core of Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
That’s really what kills either Curry or Durant’s case for MVP. Could it be argued that one of them is the NBA’s best player? Definitely.
But it’s pretty hard to look at the rosters in Houston or Oklahoma City and say they could survive without Harden or Westbrook like the Warriors are without Durant.
Comparisons between these Warriors and LeBron James‘ Miami Heat teams are often drawn, and they have some merit. The difference between the Heatles and these Warriors is in hierarchy.
LeBron was obviously the best player on those teams, like he has been on any team he’s ever been on. He won two MVP awards with the Heat, and led both of those teams in scoring by at least five points per game.
His win shares really tell the story–in the shortened 2011-12 season LeBron had nearly double the win shares as the next-best member of the Heat. In 2012-13, he added almost ten more wins than Dwyane Wade did.
The difference between Curry and Durant is much smaller. Durant scores 0.3 more points than Curry does this season, and he’s added 0.1 more wins in less minutes. When MVP voters can’t decide between superstar teammates, they tend to pick neither.
The Los Angeles Lakers won 56 games in 2000-01 and 58 games in 2001-02. They won titles both seasons, including a one-loss playoff performance in 2001. Neither Shaq nor Kobe won MVP either season, at least partially because they both scored within two points per game of each other both years.
Now it’s certainly true that Iverson and Duncan had strong MVP cases in their wins, even if they weren’t on the best team or weren’t the best players that season. Still, prime Shaq not winning more than one MVP in his time with the Lakers is pretty surprising.
If a lack of MVP awards is the penalty for having teams so stacked one clear top dog can’t be picked I think the Lakers then and Warriors now are fine with it. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry can fight over the Finals MVP this June instead.