#360debate: Should Stephen Curry be MVP?

Sport360 staff 07:26 06/04/2015
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Hot stuff: Steph Curry had led the Warriors to the best record in the NBA.

The NBA season is reaching its final stages and focus is turning to which player will claim the prestigious MVP award this season.

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With four-time MVP winner LeBron James below his best this campaign, space has emerged for a new face to claim the prize for a second year running and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry is a leading candidate for the prize.

Our #360debate today is: Should Stephen Curry be this year’s NBA MVP?

Jay Asser, Reporter, thinks YES

You can’t talk about Stephen Curry without talking about the dominance of the Golden State Warriors this season.

The team from the Bay have ripped apart the rest of the NBA en route to easily securing the top record not only in the Western Conference, but in the entire league. And they’ve done it fairly easily.

The Warriors’ current plus-10.7 points average margin of victory would rank seventh all-time and for much of the season, they’ve led the league in both offensive and defensive ratings – the number of points scored or allowed per 100 possessions.

While James Harden rightly gets recognition for single-handedly carrying the Houston Rockets this year, Curry’s effect in lifting the Warriors can’t be discounted.

With Harden on the court, Houston have an offensive rating of 107.4 points and defensive rating of 101.2. When their superstar sits, the Rockets’ offensive rating plummets to 93.0 (a drop of 14.4 points), whereas their defensive rating improves to 97.5 (a gain of 3.7 points).

Golden State, meanwhile, boast the league’s best offensive rating at 113.8 and a defensive rating of 96.7 with Curry on the floor. Without him, however, the offence drops all the way to 100.9 (a decline of 12.9 points), as does the defence to 99.4 (loss of 2.7 points).

Basically, it’s hard to argue that Harden is any more valuable to his team than Curry is to his from a raw numbers perspective.

If you took Curry and Harden off their respective teams, would the Warriors still be better than the Rockets? Yes. But there’s something to be said about taking an already great team and bringing them to a transcendent, historic level.

There’s also something to be said for not having to play many minutes in the fourth quarter. Harden has often won it for Houston at the end of games.

Curry often has it won before the game even reaches that point, thanks to his ridiculous efficiency. You can label Curry ‘the best player on the best team’ if you want, but that would be selling him short. This season, Stephen Curry has been the best player. Period.

James Piercy, Deputy Editor, thinks NO

Russell Westbrook has had his moments, ditto Anthony Davis, who is probably two seasons away from an MVP, while LeBron James deserves considerable credit for taking a slight backseat at Cleveland while at the same time leading them to their best finish in the East since he left.

But the MVP conversation essentially comes down to two men: Steph Curry and James Harden.

The numbers (not including Golden State’s game against San Antonio last night) are there to see: Harden’s 27.5 PPG v Curry’s 23.6, assists of 7.0 to 7.7 while field goal percentages are 44.2 to 48.1 and from beyond the arc 37.6 to 43.4. There is a cigarette paper between them.

Both have elevated their teams from good, strong Western Conference outfits into genuine Championship contenders but Harden has nowhere had the same level of support of Curry.

The point guard has been ably supported by Klay Thompson’s 21.7 points per game, while as a playmaker his fellow ‘Splash Brother’ and Draymond Green combine for an average of 7.6 assists per game.

With Dwight Howard’s presence in the paint absent through injury since January, Harden has had to go it alone. He is some 12 points ahead of the Rockets second-best scorer (Howard) and while not ostensibly a point guard, his 7.0 assists sit just behind Curry’s and exceed the next best two starters of Patrick Beverley (3.4) and Trevor Ariza (2.6).

Which brings us too the primary reason why Harden’s play this season has exceeded everyone else’s.

Curry has been the main man in Golden State for the past five seasons. Harden came to Houston in 2012 as Sixth Man of the Year.

He’s never had the burden of being the superstar, the leader, the ball carrier, clutch shooter and go-to guy. In 2013/14 he had Howard by his side, this year there’s been no hiding place, he’s had to produce and with everything against him he’s delivered careerbest numbers in points, assists, steals and rebounds. If he hadn’t, the Rockets would be tumbling down the standings.

Curry has also given his very best but the onus hasn’t necessarily been on him, each and every night for the last six months.

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