There are a plethora of MVP Rankings from sport sites throughout the internet, most will provide the audience with nothing more than a list of the top current MVP candidates. I’ve decided to shake things up a bit and provide a projected MVP leader board that will reflect predicted results through the end of January. My metric is simple, rank the MVP’s by their offensive output, team impact, and winning percentage (projections of course). Winning matters, and I believe each teams’ schedules through the month of January should play a huge role in ranking the order of the MVP candidates mentioned below.
1. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
- NBA Stats: 23.1 PPG, 7.6 APG, 5.1 RPG
- January Schedule: Road Games (4) Home Games (11)
- Key Games to Watch: Fri, Jan 2 vs Toronto; Mon, Jan 5 vs Oklahoma City; Fri, Jan 9 vs Cleveland; Wed, Jan 14 vs Miami; Jan 5 @ Oklahoma City; Sat, Jan 17 @ Houston; Wed, Jan 21 vs Houston; Tue, Jan 27 vs Chicago; Sat, Jan 31 vs Phoenix
I expect Curry to continue his MVP run at the top of the list throughout the month of January. Why? The Warriors have 11 home games including a very easy schedule in which we could see this team win at least 80-90 percent of their January games. The only tough games on the road are against Houston and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I actually expect Curry’s scoring average to increase this month as the Warriors continue to hold down the No.1 spot in the Western Conference. This month is easy money for Curry.
2. James Harden – Houston Rockets
- NBA Stats: 27.2 PPG, 7.0 APG, 6.1 RPG
- January Schedule: Road Games (11) Home Games (6)
- Key Games to Watch: Sat, Jan 3 vs Miami; Mon, Jan 5 @ Chicago; Wed, Jan 7 @ Cleveland; Sat, Jan 17 vs Golden State; Wed, Jan 21 @ Golden State; Fri, Jan 23 @ Phoenix; Wed, Jan 28 vs Dallas;
January could prove to be a semi-tough month for Harden and the Houston Rockets as they have 11 road games with four against teams with winning records. The acquisition of Josh Smith is a huge upgrade for this team, and should help lighten the load offensively for the teams No.1 offensive option and the NBA’s leading scorer — James Harden. The Rockets are one of the better road teams in the west, so don’t expect Harden to fall too far in the rear of the MVP race this month.
3. LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trail Blazers
- NBA Stats: 22.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.3 BLKPG
- January Schedule: Road Games (8) | Home Games (8)
- Key Games to Watch: Sat, Jan 3 vs Atlanta; Thu, Jan 8 vs Miami; Wed, Jan 14 vs Los Angeles (Clippers); Fri, Jan 16 @ San Antonio; Sat, Jan 17 @ San Antonio; Wed, Jan 21 @ Phoenix; Sat, Jan 24 vs Washington; Wed, Jan 28 @ Cleveland; Friday, Jan 30 @ Atlanta; Sat, Jan 31 @ Milwaukee
Aldridge has been the most dominant power forward in the Western Conference and arguably the entire league, therefore, I can’t envision any team slowing the Trail Blazers stride in the foreseeable future. On the flip-side, this team has a very tough schedule this month with at least half of their games against teams over .500.
4. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
- NBA Stats: 20.5 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.7 RPG
- January Schedule: Road Games (8) Home Games (8)
- Key Games to Watch: Fri, Jan 2 @ Golden State; Sun, Jan 4 @ Phoenix; Fri, Jan 16 @ Atlanta; Wed, Jan 21 @ Memphis; Fri, Jan 30 @ Brooklyn; Sat, Jan 31 @ Washington
The Toronto Raptors continue to hold a loose grip as the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, and I don’t expect that to change at all during the month of January, as this team has the talent and desire to win 12 out of their 16 scheduled games. I expect Lowry and Co. to hold down home court while the road schedule could pose some resistance. True, the Raptors are one of the better road teams in the East, but Lowry will face a slew of point guards aiming to deliver an “L” and quiet his MVP buzz. Don’t be surprised if Lowry drops a few slots in the January MVP race.
5. Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies
- NBA Stats: 20.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.6 BLKPG
- January Schedule: Road Games (7) Home Games (9)
- Key Games to Watch: Wed, Jan 7 @ Atlanta; Sat, Jan 17 vs Portland; Mon, Jan 19 vs Dallas; Wed, Jan 21 vs Toronto; Tue, Jan 27 @ Dallas; Sat, Jan 31 @ Oklahoma City;
This season Marc Gasol has emerged as the best center in the West and arguably the best in the NBA (right now) during the absence of Dwight Howard. Gasol offers a few weapons you will be hard-pressed to find in the arsenal of some of the elite big-men in the league. His ability to pass the ball rivals many guards in the NBA, while his court vision has continued to make him a difficult player to defend against. Gasol may not be as dominant as Howard, but he’s the better player when it comes to spreading the floor. The Grizzlies have a very rough schedule headed their way, but I think they will maintain the No.3 slot in the West.