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.
Marvin Bagley III capped off an impressive freshman year at Duke by earning ACC Player-of-the-Year and consensus 1st Team All-American honors. Based on his accomplishments, he deserved to be considered as the top pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. However, that distinction went to Arizona center Deandre Ayton instead. With the 2nd overall pick, the Sacramento Kings couldn’t pass on the former Blue Devil power forward. Given his size and skill set, Bagley should be able to avoid becoming a bust. I just worry his performance might suffer when he doesn’t get the recognition he craves playing in the shadow of nearby stars Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Oh yeah, there’s also a guy named LeBron who just took his talents to the same state.
Influenced by impressive combine results, the St. Louis Rams took Baylor OT Jason Smith with the #2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Despite high expectations, Smith ended his four-year career as the least productive offensive lineman ever taken with a top 5 overall pick. While he seemingly deserves to be labeled a Top 10 Bust, his lack of production can be attributed to a history of serious head injuries. In particular, he suffered two season-ending concussions during his first three years in the league. Smith recovered from the first one, but never started again after the second. It’s uncertain how good he might have been without the injuries, but it’s unfair to label him as an all-time bust because of them.