Mike Eshleman
Sports Writer

The NBA regular season is just about over and the playoffs are on the horizon. That being said, the NBA MVP award is still up for grabs, and there are four or five different players that could be deemed deserving of the coveted award.

A lot of casual NBA fans may be thinking “Oh, LeBron James is going to win it; he’s the best player in the world!” He definitely has a shot, but there are some players in the league that are probably a little more deserving of the award. I’ll be sorting through the candidates through a tier system.

Most Likely to Win: Golden State point guard Stephen Curry has been on an absolute tear this year and, along with fellow sharpshooter Klay Thompson and a plethora of outstanding role players, has his Warriors on top of the league. They’ve already secured the first seed in the Western Conference, and Curry has broken the single season record for three-point field goals made… again. He accomplished the same feat last year by breaking Ray Allen’s record. The Warriors are the favorites to represent the West in the NBA Finals, and they couldn’t be doing any of this without Curry.

Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden has been on a similar tear this year, averaging an outstanding 27.5 points per game to go along with 6.9 assists per game and 5.6 rebounds per game. Harden can truly do it all on the basketball court and was more than adequate in making up for the absence of center Dwight Howard due to injury.

James Harden's play this season has been almost as good as his beard. (Photo courtesy of SportsKings.com)
James Harden’s play this season has been almost as good as his beard.
(Photo courtesy of SportsKings.com)

Close, but no cigar: Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has been setting the league on fire this year and at one point was recording triple doubles on a nightly basis. He has been the number one option with 2013-2014 MVP Kevin Durant struggling all year with injuries. He’s currently the leading scorer in the NBA with 28.0 points per game, but one major blemish on his MVP resume is the fact that his squad may not even make the playoffs. They are currently tied with the New Orleans Pelicans. Westbrook also tends to take a ton of shots, some of which being bad, which could put his team in a hole. Sometimes it seems as if these big performances by Westbrook are actually hurting the Thunder. If the Thunder were in better playoff position in the West, Westbrook’s case would be a little stronger.

Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James is always in the MVP discussion. He is still arguably the best player in the world, but has dealt with some injuries this year. It’s not that James has played poorly this year when he has been healthy, it’s just that he hasn’t been putting up the same numbers as the aforementioned players.

Wild Card: I have one wild card player to mention, and he is almost definitely the future of the NBA. New Orleans Pelicans power forward/center Anthony Davis is the sole reason they are close to securing a playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference. Davis, currently in his third year in the NBA, is averaging 24.3 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game along with an absurd 2.9 blocks per game and 1.5 steals per game. Davis is definitely in the running for defensive player of the year, but is still a year or two away from earning the MVP award.

The MVP race is almost assuredly down to Curry vs. Harden, but anything could happen in the final week or two of the NBA season.