Blogtable: LeBron’s MVP challenger

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Darkhorse MVP | Best backcourt | Speeding up the game


> Kevin Durant is likely out of the MVP picture, making LeBron the clear frontrunner. Who is your darkhorse MVP candidate?

Chris Paul (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

Chris Paul (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I don’t think Durant is out of MVP contention simply because he’ll miss games — if OKC were to sputter along below .500 without him, then win at an .800 clip with him, that would make all the MVP case he’d need. But I’ll play along: If James doesn’t win his fifth MVP, I’m guessing Chris Paul pushes the Clippers to something special out West and snags it. Media voters love imbuing point guards will all sorts of bonus intangibles that say “valuable” (which is why Chicago’s Derrick Rose could get back in the conversation, too).

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I’m not sure you would label Chris Paul as a dark horse. But in the  second year under Doc Rivers and with the door opened by OKC, the Clippers could make a run at best record in the West/league and that could push CP3 over the top. Way outside in dark would be Anthony Davis, if he can somehow lead the Pelicans into the playoffs.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comStephen Curry. I’ve been a believer since the day Steve Kerr was hired that Golden State is going to have a fun and loose squad that will play the same way. They’ll maintain the defensive principles, but Kerr will usher in a much more appealing, go-go offense that is going to play right into Curry’s hands. He’s set to go bonkers, folks, and the Warriors (health be with them) will follow.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: On the assumption that by darkhorse you mean “Anyone not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant”: Anthony Davis. The problem for Davis is that this will depend a lot on his teammates — the Pelicans are in position to make the playoffs, but if they miss, AD MVP would be a hard campaign to win. The problem for the rest of the league, meanwhile, is that he is ready to burst to the next level. He is established as a superstar into the next decade. The only question is whether that future arrives in 2014-15.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose would likely split the vote in Chicago, while Blake Griffin and Chris Paul would do the same in L.A. The Spurs are too balanced and the Pelicans won’t be good enough for Anthony Davis’ candidacy. So I’ll go with Stephen Curry, with the idea that the Warriors will improve offensively (into the top seven in efficiency) and win 50-plus games again, with Curry averaging something in the range of 25 points and 10 assists.

Blake Griffin (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

Blake Griffin (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

Sekou Smith, NBA.comI don’t know that “darkhorse” is the right word to use for what Russell Westbrook will be this season, but he’s my guy. With Kevin Durant out of the Oklahoma City Thunder lineup for up to two months, Russ West will have the MVP platform that has eluded him the past couple of seasons. He’s certainly played like one at times. But there has always been the Durant factor that kept him from getting the sort of MVP love his production deserved. I know his performance comes with the high-risk, high-reward factor that has always driven his biggest critics a bit crazy. But he won’t be denied if the Thunder can stay afloat in the West without Durant the way they did last season when Westbrook was recovering from his knee surgery.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogHow about Russell Westbrook? For basically his entire NBA career, Westbrook has been judged almost solely based in relation to the production of his teammate, Kevin Durant. But with Durant gone, we may finally get to see maximum Westbrook, where he can take as many shots as he wants and drive to the basket as often as he wants. Durant and Westbrook account for the bulk of OKC’s offense, so without Durant there’s a lot of making up to do. But if the Thunder manage to not just survive but thrive without Durant, it could go a long way toward proving Westbrook’s value to his squad.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italy: My dark horse is… Kevin Durant. I don’t see him out of the race, even if he’s going to miss the first 20 games of the season. But he’ll have 62 more games to show everybody he deserves the prize. He’s getting closer and closer to LeBron and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that when he’ll be back. If I have to pick a name different from LeBron and KD, then I’m going with Chris Paul: the Clippers have a new spirit thanks to Steve Ballmer and he can be the guy who guide them at the top of the West.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: Tony Parker could win it! It can go down like the Oscars: you know, when an actor wins the award not for the movie that he just made, but for those he had done before that. If that’s the case, then Tony Parker could win the MVP trophy, one season after the spectacular things he did with the Spurs. It’ll help his cause if San Antonio will wrap up another 55+ season and finish at the top.

Simon Legg, NBA Australia: I’m going with Blake Griffin. His offensive repertoire expanded last season and with more improvement in his game this season he should be a top candidate. There’s more tricks to his game than just dunking, he’s now a legitimate post presence and has an expanding jump shot. The next evolution of his game could be a 3-point shot. Griffin attempted 44 threes last season, hitting just 27 percent of them, but it appears that he’s testing out a 3-point shot in the preseason. Last week he showed glimpses of an expanding shot from the corner, an element that will give his game and the Clippers’ offense a new dimension. Speaking of the Clippers, they’re a legitimate contender to win the West and that generally helps when the MVP is voted on.

Takuma Oikawa, NBA Japan: Blake Griffin of the Clippers. He was in the running last season, and now is one of a real top candidate. His shooting skill seems like better than last season and he can score more points by jump shot from the perimeter this season. Kevin Durant’s injured and LeBron James will share the ball more than Heat era. So I think Griffin has a big chance to get MVP, if he keeps his condition.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: Chris Paul. I really believe the Clippers’ point guard, the best in the league, has to elevate his game this season if the Clippers are to go to the next level. Doc Rivers’ arrival changed the Clippers for better, but until Paul takes his game to a whole new level, these Clippers will continue to stumble in the poststeason. I think somewhere CP3 realises this as well. He will want to come out aggressive and leave his stamp on this season through an MVP performance.

Juan Carlos Campos, NBA Mexico: The theory would indicate that yes, LeBron James has a clear and relatively easy path to be the league’s MVP this year. With that said, I think that Stephen Curry is more than ready to take the leap into super stardom and compete hand to hand with “King” James to be named the most valuable this season. Already in the pre-season he’s shown signs of that – just ask Kobe Bryant.

Abraham Romero, NBA Spain: Blake Griffin. The Clippers and Cavs have the best roster and Blake has improved his game to an amazing level: he can dunk, shoot, rebound, assist … If LeBron relaxes a bit in Cleveland … the MVP goes to L.A.

49 Comments

  1. kenny says:

    LBJ is the most over ratted player in NBA history if they would call travaling and charging he would olnly average around 20 ppg and 4 ast and he wouldn’t have any championships because when they faced the Thunder in the finals the reffs rigged it to give the championship to heat and 2 years ago Stern went down to Vogal and next thing you see is Hibberts on the bench for a quarter and a half because he was dominating the game and Stern knew if it keep up the Pacers would win the series. Vogals excuse was he needed more Offince even thow they were up 15 with just a couple of min left in the game and the heat couldn’t score because of Hibbert’s defence

  2. Gordon Hayward says:

    no one else but…
    Me!!!

    it’s so Great to play computer games and apply it on my games.

    ^_^

  3. Jan-Rowe A. Magno says:

    Chris Paul is this year’s dark horse to win the MVP. The Spurs will still be the team to beat though.

  4. deematthew14 says:

    @Game Time, think before u speak, ur favorite BG have never get his team past the 2nd round of the playoff, the 1st time they got into the 2nd round, they got swept by the CHAMPs.. and last year, they lost to the MVP and company, matter of fact, they just can’t get past the 2nd round, all they do is entertaining their fans… plus, BG is no better without CP3…keep that in mind

  5. kenny says:

    James should not beaable to get the MVP no matter what he does he’s got to much help

  6. NostraDameUs says:

    If the Raptors can snag a 1 or 2 seed in the East and win about 55 games, perhaps, actual DARK HORSES, meaning guys not necessarily obvious choices or anyone’s choices at all right now could be: Kyle Lowry or Demar Derozan.

    In the West, I can see the Rockets Howard being a dark horse, along with Lamarcus Aldridge out of Portland if they can build on their 54 win season and snag a top 3 seed in a stacked conference.

  7. DaAwesome1 says:

    What a shame! Only the Italian guy has any sense! Must be the pizza.

  8. Jake says:

    Boris Diaw…comin’ atcha like a dark horse. Hahahaa.

  9. deematthew14 says:

    Take out Blake Griffin, he’s nowhere near winning this year’s MVP award til’ he change his style of plays.. add up Harden, Melo and Wall to the mix cuz these guys have great numbers from last season and i hope they’ll be more improve this year..

    • Game Time says:

      Melo, Harden? Really. The two guys who put up volume numbers and haven’t taken their teams past the 2nd round yet. Just another BG hater. I get it. You really should try watching him play because he keeps getting better (outside of dunking) each year. Wall has a shot, but he’s not going to be MVP, I guarantee you that.

      • Allen Iverson says:

        Lol! Melo hasn’t taken his team past the second round yet? I distinctly remember his Denver Nuggets playing in the Conf. Finals.

  10. ko0kiE says:

    I’m really curious if blake griffin can step up his game another notch… he was clearly the 3rd best player in the league last season, if he can countinue to grow and improve his shot, he will be unstoppable this season.

  11. marlon green says:

    Ok here’s the facts. Lebron will be the frontrunner for MVP until he retires and that’s the truth because he is the leagues golden boy. Look at last seaon, Durant kept the Thunder at the top of the west all season and without Westbrook for a major part of the season and put up major numbers and was consistent with MVP stats ALL YEAR LONG. Lebron was good last season too but not as good as KD ALL YEAR LONG. Lebron strung together some great games towards the end of the season and then everyone was ready to crown him mvp. So unless Durant can come back from his injury and lift the Thunder to the top of the west again and put up MVP numbers I dont really see anyone beating out Lebron just because he’s everyone’s favorite. It would be nice to see the same scenerio with the Thunder again but with Westbrook but I doubt that will happen. But Lebron will win it because the Cavs will have the first or second best record in the east and all the credit will go to Lebron. Even though Irving will be coming back from playing great from USA ball and the great play the will carry over into the season with him it will be credited to Lebron for making him play better and things easier for him. Lillard and Aldrige wont get it because they are serioulsy underatted. I would also like to see Wade get it because so many people have forgotten how great he is but if the heat dont make 1st in the east he wont get it. Dirk wont get it because his Mavs will do well but they wont be superior. Curry, Howard, Harden, CP3 and Blake wont have a shot unless they put up some major numbers and their team is at the top of the west. I like Anthony Davis but you rarely see players get it when they have their first or second break out season. Rose wont get it because he has a little help now and I’m sure some of the teams success will go to Gasol. No spurs players will get it because they wont have any players with dominating stats even though they will be at the top of the west and they dont get any respect llike always. So if none of these stars have some out of this world stats and the top 1 or 2 seeds in their divisions I dont see anyone beating the golden boy for MVP.

    • marlon green says:

      Oh yeah and Kobe could lead the Lakers into the playoff and he still wouldn’t get MVP because there are still so many people out there that hate him and that makes them truly miss how great he is.

    • ko0kiE says:

      just say it.. you hate LeBron. 😉

  12. Deaunta Garrett says:

    Stephen Curry bitch!

  13. iamironman says:

    DWade or DRose

  14. iamironman says:

    DWade or DRose.

  15. Michael says:

    Rose fan here and as much as Id love to see him get it again it may be tough with such a stacked Bulls team this year. kD is out, Lebron of course everyone wants but serious talk, why is Lillard not in this convo? Did everyone forget what Portland did last year with this guy, again a Rose fan but damn is Lillard one bad guard…

  16. A (Biased) Suns Fan says:

    I’m honestly stunned not to see anyone here say anything about Dragic. With how well he played last year and the opportunities that he will have this year, It’s crazy to say that he won’t at least be in the discussion.

    • Mike says:

      tbh Dragic was a bit overhyped because of the story. he cant play D so idk about that. Offensively you’re right though, that team and system with him in it will put up numbers.

  17. Ryan41 says:

    Dirk Nowitzki will be ahead of the MVP pack this season because his team will stun the Western Conference and the NBA this season.

  18. nbafan says:

    If the Lakers make the playoffs and there’s Linsanity part II, Jeremy Lin. LOL It would be like a miracle and I think he’d deserve it. Let’s be real though, Lebron is the clear frontrunner without Durant, although I would like to ser Westbrook recognized if the Thunder have a better record than last year.

  19. lbj says:

    Dark horse, white horse, pink ponies, what’s the difference?

    The one true king of basketball will be taking the trophy to the City of Champions, Cleveland, at season’s end.

    Fwoosh!

  20. ghaith shan says:

    D-Wade MVP

  21. Despite all the money Lebron has made I feel sorry for him because I apreciate him. He can be MVP once again I dont put in doubt but my men I feel the Heat men….

  22. I just wanna starts the debate once again like old times in 2011. Let´s go Heat.

  23. Michael says:

    Kawhi Leonard? He already has a Finals MVP trophy collecting dust.

  24. KDfan says:

    There y’all go again. More LBJ kool-aid. The season has not yet begun and LBJ becomes a CLEAR frontrunner, why.

    • theholyspectator says:

      hes box office, nba is about money, wake up and smell the real life roses man

    • Rumbero says:

      That’s the reason i don’t think much of today’s MVP’s. The season hasn’t even started and they have Lebron already as front runner. This is the main difference between the league in the 70’s,80’s, and 90’s. You had too many MVP caliber players and to get it you had to bust your butt to really earn it. In the 90’s you had in Jordan the best player in the world but that didn’t make him MVP every year . There were the Barkley’s, Magics, Malone’s, Hakeem’s, Bird’s, Ewing’s, Robinsons, Drexler’s, Oneal’s, Duncan’s and Thomas’s of the world which you had to compete with.

  25. Kwame Brown says:

    Dwight has to step up for the Rockets since they lost players, plus he looked good in the Portland series so I could see him in this convo. If he averages 24+pts 13 reb 2blks

  26. lbj says:

    Kobe is the dark horse if he can average 30 5 5, and lakers make the playoffs

  27. Joseph Hoff says:

    I’m going with Dwyane Wade this man got a lot to prove. Just wait and see

  28. Jesus Otero says:

    Seth curry or carmelo Anthony

  29. Chuck bless says:

    I find it interesting that James is considered the man to beat when he was neither the MVP nor Champ last season. He’s already been overthrown. The question is, will he be able to take reclaim the thrown.

  30. harriethehawk says:

    Russell Westbrook. He’s about to blow up!!!!!!!!!

  31. TJ says:

    These articles are written by jock riders #thatisall

  32. Defdun says:

    C’mon guys…neither Blake Griffin, Steph Curry nor Chris Paul can be called Dark Horse!! It’s got to be someone without 1st, 2nd or 3rd place votes last year like…Anthony Davis, or Russell Westbrook, or Kyrie Irving, or Klay Thompson. I’m going with AD or Kobe Bryant IF they make the playoffs!

  33. RP says:

    And who’s even to say Leflop is the one to challenge at this point? He has hardly played during preseason and what I saw was multiple turnovers. He has competition for MVP even on his own team. I don’t see it with their roster.

  34. RP says:

    This is a stupid article. The season hasn’t even started yet and you’re talking MVP. KD isn’t dead….he’s just injured. SMH….

  35. TheKush says:

    After Kobe I think the players people want to see the most are LeBron James, Kevin Durant and then Blake Griffin, Chris Paul is good but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch him play. If Blake Griffin wasn’t on the Clippers I wouldn’t find the Clippers that interesting. I used to forget Chris Paul even existed when he played in New Orleans. I would even put Steph Curry ahead of Chris Paul at the moment I even have Russell Westbrook ahead of Chris Paul. I’m eager to see what Russell Westbrook can do without Durant. Also Anthony Davis is on the come up his stats last season where pretty good! I would be surprised if Chris Paul ever won an MVP!

  36. Michael Crandall says:

    Uhhh, why isn’t Lamarcus Aldridge in this discussion?? He most definitely is a MVP caliber player..