Perhaps more than any other year in recent NBA history, the 2016-17 MVP Award justifiably could go to one of five different candidates. Depending on how you define MVP, you might vote for the following players.
– Best player on the best team (the most popular definition): Kevin Durant.
– Best player on any team (a.k.a. “The Best Player on the Planet”): LeBron James.
– Best two-way player on a Top 3 Team: Kawhi Leonard.
– Best statistical season for a player on a Top 3 Team: James Harden.
– Best statistical season for a player on any team: Russell Westbrook.
When you combine one of these definitions with a season that hasn’t happened for over 50 years, the winner becomes more clear cut. Well, at least my son thinks so.
With the 5th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected point guard Kris Dunn. As a junior at Providence last year, Dunn averaged 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals per game. Those numbers, which were unmatched by anyone else in the NCAA, earned him 2nd Team All-American honors. Including Dunn, the Timberwolves have amassed a talented group of young players over the last three years. Specifically, they have the last two Rookies of the Year (and #1 overall picks) Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. At the same time, reigning two-time Slam Dunk Champion (and 2014 #13 overall pick) Zach LaVine has shown that he’s not a one-trick pony. It’s too early to tell how good the Timberwolves can be, but Dunn should help make them even more competitive for years to come.
Last month, attorney Ted Wells issued a 243-page investigative report (a.k.a. “The Wells Report”) regarding Deflategate. After three months and millions of dollars, he concluded, “It is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of [Locker Room Attendant Jim] McNally and [Assistant Equipment Manager John] Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Depending on your feelings towards the Patriots, you will interpret that sentence either as an indictment of Brady’s involvement or as insufficient evidence for a guilty verdict. Regardless, the NFL suspended Brady for four games based on the report’s conclusion and a lack of cooperation in the investigation. Furthermore, the league confiscated two draft picks and fined the team $1 million based on a lack of cooperation and a history of cheating (i.e. Spygate). Lest you believe the punished would accept the verdict without question, the Patriots have created a website to refute the report while Brady has filed an appeal of his suspension through the NFL Players Association. By the time the scandal is resolved, we’ll all be wishing we were talking about Favre’s re-retirements instead.