Not too long ago I posted my thoughts on who would make the playoffs and which teams might be the most interesting or fun to watch. Today's rant will focus on players who could snare the MVP, obvious or otherwise...
Kyrie Irving -
If Cleveland chooses to bludgeon the East they may end up with two candidates. The first and most obvious is LeBron James. He more than most understands legacy and his place in history. Only Kareem, Russel and Jordan have been awarded more MVP's than James. If the best player of this generation sets out to destroy, who I am to bet against him. After all, he's attempting to make it to seven straight Finals... His point guard, Uncle Drew, also has a chance to capture the league MVP. If LeBron plays in less games or logs less minutes, thus inducing Kyrie to go ballistic. There's a chance his numbers could get insane, especially in the scoring department. If leadership skills begin to develop as well, voters would have to take notice. Kyrie might also need to play in 80+ games to further cement those potential votes. There's also a chance that they cannibalize each other's votes. But in a year coming off of the greatest shot he's ever taken and made, it might just be his turn to take the regular season torch, he's more than capable of scorching opposing perimeter players. He out-dueled the unanimous MVP in The Finals. That alone is a pretty impressive feat to build upon.
Russel Westbrook -
I can hardly wait to watch Russel Westbrook nuke opponents this year. The energy and emotion with which Westbrook plays is unmatched. Fueled evermore by the cupcake decision of his past running-mate and the continued blathering by that same former teammate (though he'll never admit that). I expect Russ to morph into some type of hybrid X-Men basketball hero. He might even spontaneously combust, or shoot laser beams from his eyes and melt opponents. Either way, he's going to stuff the stat sheet. The Thunder are his team now. If OKC can grab a top four seed it will be the result of Westbrook's abilities, both physically and psychologically. I believe he can make others better. And if all that happens, he's a legit MVP candidate. Go Russ go.
Damian Lillard -
Coach Steve Kerr is quoted as saying, "...Damian Lillard wins the election. That's my forecast." I agree with him. Dame has a purely unique identity and team, the competitive-motor runs high collectively. Last year he proved he's a leader. Rip City made their way into the second round of the playoffs after losing four starters. Other than game 1, the Blazers held the lead for 137 minutes against the Warriors in the rest of that series. He's a top three point guard that has no problem sharing the limelight with others. He'll continue to put up numbers as the trailblazers battle for a home seed out West. Portland has continuity coming into this season and they have Dame DOLLA. The stars could align.
Despite all of the juicy subplots that incubated during the off season, the players still have to play the games. Thanks for checking in. Now we can fix our attention to the NBA.