Does the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award really focus on the most valuable player?

NBA LeBron James and James Harden

Is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award really about being the most valuable? When you read the phrase “most valuable” you think of the player that’s most important to their team.

If we’re calling the most heralded award in the league the Most Valuable Player award then I believe it should truly be awarded to the most “VALUABLE” player. If you look at the trend over the years, the award has been going to the best player on the best team or the player with the best stats.

If we look at last season, Russell Westbrook was awarded the MVP trophy. It was a tight race between James Harden and himself but the statistics behind Westbrook’s year ultimately led him to the win. The OKC guard was the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double in a season and he’s done it again this year. So what’s stopping him from winning the award again? What’s so different between last year and this year that we’re overlooking his superb statistic season?

Rachel Nichols of ESPN has a great theory on the MVP award and how the league should make changes. Adding an Offensive Player of the Year award similar to what other leagues have could separately award the player who had the best statistical season. Nonetheless, putting the focus back on value in the Most Valuable Player award.

When you think about the most valuable player, LeBron James could arguably win this award every season. When you look at his career, he has made an immediate impact on every team that he’s been on. If you take him off of those teams, they probably wouldn’t have even sniffed the playoffs, including this season. At his age, he’s having one of the best seasons of his career 15 seasons in. When you look at everything he provides for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s no question how valuable he is.

Let’s think about Stephen Curry. If you look at the state of the Warriors at the moment, they desperately need the 2-time MVP. What he provides for that team on and off the ball is so crucial. Offensively he’s the engine to that system and without him, they struggle mightily. They’ve lost six out of their last ten since Curry went down. This shows how important he is. While his numbers might not pop out like some others, one could argue he should be in the most valuable argument as well.

I believe the issue we run into is how to gauge who’s truly the most important. While you can use numbers such as on/off statistics, it takes more than that. James Harden is very valuable to the Houston Rockets but since he has another player beside him like Chris Paul and other solid role players, does that lessen his value. This argument hurts Curry too. Since he plays besides all-stars like Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson one would debate they have a lot of talent so is he really that important? I’m not sure if the NBA will ever add another award such as the best offensive player or if voters will put more importance on the word valuable. But it’s something to watch going forward if guys such as LeBron James are missing out on possible MVP trophies.



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