Sharpshooting Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has been named the winner of the 2014-2015 NBA Most Valuable Player award, receiving 100-of-130 first-place votes, the league said on Monday.
The Warriors finished with the best record in the NBA (67-15), with Curry leading the team in scoring (23.8 points per game), assists (7.7), and steals (2.04). The 27-year-old finished sixth in the league in scoring, sixth in assists, fourth in steals, first in free-throw percentage (91.4), and fourth in three-point percentage (44.3). Curry also converted more three-point shots (286) than any other player, and also had the most number of steals (163).
This is the first time a guard has won the MVP award since the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose in 2010-2011. Forward Kevin Durant, who had an injury-plagued season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, was last season's MVP.
Curry (1,198 votes) beat out the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (25 first-place votes, 936 total votes), the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (5 first places votes, 552 total votes), the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (352 total votes) and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (203 total votes), in one of the deepest races in years. The Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul also received (124 votes), while the Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, Clippers' Blake Griffin, San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, as well as Curry's teammate Klay Thompson were also in the running.
While Curry earned a convincing victory from sportswriters, there might be some who will dispute whether Harden, James, Westbrook and Davis were more deserving.
The Rockets finished with the second-best record in the West, with Harden finishing with a 27.4-point scoring average -- a 3.6-point advantage over Curry. While Curry led his team in scoring, he was only 2.1 points-per-game better than Thompson (21.7 ppg). Harden, on the other hand, finished 11.6 points ahead of the Rockets' second best scorer Dwight Howard (15.8 ppg), who missed half the season. Harden also finished with 7.0 assists per game, despite rarely playing the point guard role.
The Cavaliers finished the 2013-2014 season with a 33-49 record, but improved their win total by 20 games with the addition of James. As usual, the veteran forward finished with exceptional numbers: 25.3 ppg, 7.4 apg and 6.0 rpg, while leading the Cavs in steals per game (1.6). While the Warriors made the Western Conference playoffs in 2013-2014 with a 51-31 record, the Cavs finished 10th in the East last season, proving the importance of James. Some might claim that since James has won four MVP awards, sportswriters may feel that other players deserve to be rewarded instead of the consensus "best player in the league."
Few players had a hotter season than Westbrook. The 26-year-old guard finished with the NBA scoring title (28.1 points per game), and also finished better than Curry in assists (8.6) and rebounds (7.3) and finished only behind the Leonard in steals (2.09). But Westbrook's surge from late January to the end of the season was what brought him the most attention. He had nine games in which he scored 40 points or more in that span, to go along with 10 triple-doubles. Westbrook, who missed 15 games due to injury and was without Durant, had some jaw-dropping games, like a 15-assist and 16-rebound effort against the Warriors on Jan. 16, and a 54-point outburst that included nine rebounds and eight assists against the Indiana Pacers on April 12.
Davis stood out as the best big man in the league. He finished fourth in the NBA in scoring average (24.4), first in blocks (2.94), and eighth in rebounding (10.2). At only age 22, Davis also took on a leadership role on the Pelicans, elevating the club to a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference in just his second season. It was a sharp improvement from 2013-2014, when New Orleans finished 12th in the NBA. The Pelicans finished with a .549 winning percentage, but were only 7-7 in the 14 games that Davis missed due to an injured shoulder
Conclusion: Curry deserves to be MVP. He has done so many things right for a team that entered the playoffs as a serious championship contender. While he may have a better supporting cast than some of the other candidates, Curry has been a consistent force on both sides of the court and it's hard to envision the Warriors as a championship-caliber team had he not played at such a high level all season.