Kevin Durant

NBA

2017 NBA MVP RACE

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 would 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.

Exemptions

Greg Oden Exemption: Too Injured To Play (NBA)

Over the last 40 years, the Portland Trail Blazers have used a #1 or #2 overall pick to select three different big men. Specifically, they have taken Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, and Greg Oden during that time frame. Unfortunately, each player lost significant time due to various injuries. Walton brought a title to the city so he avoided the disdain experienced by the others. Drafted ahead of Michael Jordan, Bowie predictably earned the title of #1 Worst NBA Draft Pick. At the same time, he produced enough in his NBA career to avoid being called a bust. Oden, my #10 Worst NBA Draft Pick, similarly deserves to be omitted from a countdown of all-time busts. In his honor, this post establishes the Greg Oden Exemption for players whose careers cannot be fairly judged because of injuries.

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