Who should win the 2017 NBA MVP?

The 2017 NBA MVP race is the closest we have seen in years through 1/4th of the NBA season. Everyone is playing amazing basketball right now and there is no runaway favorite like we saw last year with Stephen Curry and the 73-win Golden State Warriors. There are definitely good teams, but there are players putting up stats that demand to be recognized.

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To see where things currently stand we thought we would take a look at the current NBA Win Shares ratings from Basketball Reference. To put it simply, Win Shares are a stat that figure out how many wins a particular player has added to the team by using a sum of their statistics. There are Offensive Win Shares and Defensive Win Shares and the total of these two form a better picture of a player. For perspective, we also included each player’s PER which is a measure of per minute production. 15 is considered average. Let’s take a look at the top 15 Win Shares players in the NBA as of today.

Rk Player Pos Tm G PER OWS DWS WS
1 Chris Paul PG LAC 25 28.2 3.7 1.5 5.2
2 Kevin Durant SF GSW 25 28.4 3.7 1.4 5.1
3 James Harden PG HOU 25 27.8 4.1 1.0 5.1
4 Jimmy Butler SF CHI 23 27.2 3.8 1.1 4.9
5 Stephen Curry PG GSW 25 25.5 3.3 0.9 4.3
6 Rudy Gobert C UTA 25 21.8 2.5 1.7 4.2
7 Kawhi Leonard SF SAS 24 27.1 2.9 1.3 4.2
8 Anthony Davis PF NOP 23 29.3 2.3 1.7 4.0
9 Kyle Lowry PG TOR 24 22.7 3.3 0.7 4.0
10 LeBron James SF CLE 21 26.4 2.9 0.9 3.8
11 Damian Lillard PG POR 26 25.0 3.6 0.1 3.7
12 Russell Westbrook PG OKC 24 29.3 2.3 1.5 3.7
13 Giannis Antetokounmpo SG MIL 23 26.2 2.0 1.5 3.5
14 DeMar DeRozan SG TOR 24 25.3 2.8 0.6 3.5
15 Kevin Love PF CLE 22 24.7 2.5 1.0 3.5
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/13/2016.

The name that jumps out here is Chris Paul who is the leader thus far. The Clippers have been one of the hottest teams early this season and Paul has been the leader of all of that. His 17.9 points, 9.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game averages don’t really jump off the page, but he has been amazing thus far. Pre-season betting odds had him at +3300 to win the MVP and this would be a big upset.

Kevin Durant is in second place, but I think we can be pretty safe to say that he won’t win the 2017 MVP. The narrative reasons are many and while that may be unfair to him, the Warriors are a super team and voters seem unlikely to award him for that unless his stats are just that crazy. As of now, they are not.

My personal pick for MVP, James Harden, is third on this list and he should be considered the favorite right now. His counting stats are insane right now as he is averaging 28.1 points, 11.6 assists and 7.6 rebounds. He is the current leader in Offensive Win Shares and it’s hard to see him losing that grip. I still see him as the best value out there and his preseason odds of +1000 look like a steal.

Of course, the player who has been putting up the craziest counting stats this season is Russell Westbrook. He is currently averaging a triple double with 31.1 points, 11 assists and 10.9 rebounds per game. He is just 13th in Win Shares, but those numbers are just so crazy that it’s hard not to put him into considering. He was the pre-season MVP favorite and if he averages a triple double, it’ll be hard not to give it to him. No one has averaged a triple double in a season since Oscar Robertson did it in the 1961-1962 season.

Jimmy Butler of the Bulls rounds out the top four and he is having a career year, but there is no way that he is hanging with the rest of these guys. A great season, but it’s hard to see him stealing votes from anyone else we listed here.

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