The MVP Award has often been associated as "the best player on the best team" regardless of the the sport. There is only one problem with predicting that in this upcoming NBA season: Two of the top five NBA players play on what is predicted to be the best team.
However, I do not expect the top five MVP candidates to change from whom they were last year: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Dwyane Wade. The only difference is that the award will actually be a race instead of an absolute domination by LeBron James.
But ultimately, who will the race come down to?
This is where I eliminate Kobe Bryant and place him at fifth. Kobe is, without a doubt, one of best of the generation. However, he is getting older and his stats will not be enough to win the award against this much competition. Despite this, he will still put up a very impressive stat line and be the leader of a powerful Laker team looking to three-peat for the second time in 11 years.
Projected Stat Line: 26.9 pts, 5.7 asts, 5.4 rebs
Who comes next all depends on how you think the Heat will work as a team, which is why I have Dwyane Wade as fourth. Wade is a talented scorer and combining that with the scoring and passing threat that is LeBron James, it could create an interesting race between the two. While Wade may end up with the better scoring average, I think that LeBron's stat line will be too impressive for voters to put Wade ahead of James.
Projected Stat Line: 24.8 pts, 5.8 asts, 4.9 rebs
The three remaining superstars, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and the aforementioned LeBron James, will run the real race. All three will have championship-caliber teams, as well as three unique and extremely impressive stat lines. Before I crown the winner, I will give you what I predicted to be the stats for all three candidates.
James: 22.5 pts, 10.3 asts, 7.9 rebs
Durant: 31.5 pts, 4.1 asts, 7.6 rebs
Howard: 19.6 pts, 13.5 rebs, 2.6 blks
The difficulty now comes from trying to pick which one is the MVP, considering that it is really complicated to compare the three.
I think Howard is the first to be eliminated. Even though he is Orlando's game changer and puts up incredible numbers, his team's ability is most likely to hurt his MVP chances than help them. This combined with his unevolved, but improving post game and low assist/turnover ratio will cost him his chances at the award for now.
For the second straight year, I believe that Durant and James will be the top two vote-receivers. But in what order?
I am predicting Miami to have a 66-16 record, while the Thunder put up a very respectable 57-25 mark. But does Durant's excess in points offset the Heat's better record? My answer is yes, since I do not believe that the deciding factor will be determined completely on the court.
The deciding factor will be two things: If LeBron can average close to a triple-double, and how the media will react throughout the season as James tries to capture his first ring. If the stats are like I predicted, then I think the latter may determine the outcome. If ESPN starts to air a Sportscenter season-long mini-series titled "The Quest", then you might as well go ahead and hand James his third MVP trophy.
And unfortunately for those who are not exactly LeBron fans, something like that is going to happen. The media is going to have a huge spotlight in Miami, following every game with a 10 minute Sportscenter highlight. With that spotlight and stat line, some of the voters will keep drawing comparisons between LeBron and Magic, forgetting that the MVP Award doesn't involve the LA legend.
Winner: LeBron James