Previewing the MVP Race
Last year, Cheyne Cunningham won the MVP by doing absolutely everything for his team enroute to a first round series win and a tough second round exit against the eventually champs. He lead the league in scoring and was also in consideration for Defensive Player of the Year.
This year the race should be incredibly competitive, with multiple players set up to put up big numbers on teams that compliment them well. Below I break down how each player can win the awards and compare their case to the current NBA MVP Candidates.
Reggie Williams: The Lebron Case
Reggie Williams will be the best player on a past champion. He will likely lead the team in points, rebounds, assists and be the team's best defender when he turns it on. His case will largely rest on the team's record and how much Reggie defers to his teammates during the regular season. Generally he prefers to get his teammates involved, play the role of the facilitator and then score in spots, but if this team is locked into a lot of close games, look for Reggie get his own shot down the stretch. His game is predicated on using his ability to get to the rim at will as his primary threat and then getting open jumpers due to defenders respecting his drive. While his shot mechanics are not orthodox, he has an ability to get his three off at any time, regardless of any defensive pressure. When he’s on he can pretty much win a game by himself.
Bottom Line: If Space Jam wins enough games, he should win the award.
Stats Prediction: 31 PPG, 9 RPG, 8 APG, 55% FG, 38% 3PT
Matt Duquette: The James Harden Case
Matt will the best offensive player on an incredibly dangerous offense. Waffle House will be able to shoot teams out of the gym in any given game and Matt is a big part of that. With his ability to shoot from literally anywhere in the half court, when the shots are falling Matt is impossible to guard. He has recently started to add the mid-range shot to his game as well. Still, most of his points will come from the three point line, where he shoots an incredibly efficient 45%. As the league record holder for most points in a game (50), he has the ability to put up ridiculous stat lines. Though he is an adequate defender when engaged, and has shown the ability to block shots, His Calling Card is without a doubt his offensive game. His MVP case will need to built on these scoring outbursts as well the success of his team’s offense as a whole.
Bottom Line: If He keeps dropping 40 and 50 point games, he has a real chance to be considered.
Stats Prediction: 33 PPG, 10 RPG, 6 APG, 51% FG, 45% 3PT
Matt Thomas: The Steph Curry Case
Previous MVP (2011) on a team that now has another superstar, but with KD (Read: Jamie) set to miss some time this year, Matt Thomas will be once again called on to try to lead this team to a winning season, while he waits for Jamie to come back for the Championship run. Thomas is the floor general of this team offense, facilitating in a way that makes his teammates better and puts them in a position to succeed. His own offensive game starts will his shoot from anywhere range and then sneaky ability to drive and finish around taller defenders. His MVP case will be almost exclusively based on his team's record. If this team can succeed without Jamie, it will largely be based on Thomas’ ability to keep this offense humming in Jamie’s absence.
Bottom Line: He will win if Team USA can secure the 1-Seed.
Stats Prediction: 28 PPG, 5 RPG, 12 APG, 52% FG, 41% 3PT
Cheyne Cunningham: The Kawhi Leonard Case
Possibly the best two-way player in the league, Cheyne will look to disrupt opposing offenses with his length and shoot over teams with his nearly impossible to block shot. With a quiet demeanor, but loud playstyle Cheyne has a real shot at repeating as the MVP. A truly unique player both in terms of style and skillset, Cheyne is a matchup problem for any team. Cheyne is the best player on his team, but like Leonard, his team still has another All-Star and real depth. Cheyne’s shot at winning this award is dependant on how much of the offensive burden will be placed on him. If his team runs like a well-oiled machine with him on and off the court, the value of his impact may not be as obvious, but if he is required to carry the load he will have to chance to show off the offensive arsenal that allowed him to win the award in 2016.
Bottom Line: His case will depend on how much his team needs him to play like the 2016 version of himself, or a more reserved role.
Stats Prediction: 29 PPG, 9 RPG, 7 APG, 49% FG, 39% 3PT
Jamie Fox: The Kevin Durant Case
Ultimately Jamie is in this spot based on past performance, rather than what he will be able to do this season. The 2015 MVP will likely not play in enough games to make the kind of impact needed to win the award, but when he does play his impact will certainly be felt. Availability is a crucial aspect of “value”, but if he did get to play the whole season, he would have a very good shot at it.
Bottom Line: Jamie likely won’t play enough games to win the award.
Stats Prediction: 8 GP, 30 PPG, 15 RPG, 6 APG, 59% FG, 37% 3PT