April 11 ended the 2017-18 NBA regular season and while you may be thinking that the MVP is already wrapped up we have some points that will make you think twice. Before we get into who is the most deserving we really need to have a discussion about the definition of MVP. If you’ve been an NBA fan for a week you should already know that no person has the same definition of MVP as another. We are all jaded by our personal subjectivity and each person values certain stats over others.

For this post I’m going to be upfront and let you know that I am not thinking about this things with perfect objectivity. This is what makes the MVP great. It can literally be anyone any season. The biggest beef NBA critics have with our sport is that you can easily predict who will be bringing home the championship trophy before the first tip ball. The NBA undoubtedly lacks more parity than most sports.

This is why allowing our own opinions and feelings about the definition of MVP is a really good thing. We need some aspect of this sport to be unpredictable. Every year there are players that have a season for the ages that catches us off guard and it is more than okay to reward them for doing so.

Even with my own subjective lens in focus I will still have a second lens to look through. It is important not to just go completely off of what we “feel” or “think”. We can make up arguments for why Brian Scalabrine should have won the MVP back in 2010 but in the end we all that not even one statistical category would compare with the most average of NBA players that season.

The objective lens I will view this discussion through is fairly detailed. I have included a complete explanation at the end of this article if you would like to read further into the statistics I am looking at for each individual player and how I am grading them on those stats. For now, let’s start with our 5th most deserving NBA MVP.


5 – Damian Lillard – MVP Score – 22

The Positive

Damian Lillard has gone from an all star snub and rarely being recognized to being in the MVP conversation. I’m not sure how so many people have not recognized how great of an individual player Lillard is. The run that the Blazers went on after the all star break was in large part to Lillard’s phenomenal play. Over one 10 game span this season he averaged over 35 points a night. He is first in the league in points per game this year and the Blazers depend on that scoring every night.

The Negative

Many small guards are going to have similar weaknesses. The common weakness Lillard shares with other guards is on the defensive side of the ball. He isn’t a horrible defender but certainly wouldn’t be in the conversation for best 2 way players. Damian’s defensive RPM is in the negatives and he doesn’t force a whole lot of steals. Without the Blazers grabbing the 3 seed it would have been even more difficult to squeeze him into the top 5 this year.


When all was said and done the 5th spot really seemed perfect for Lillard. Putting someone 5 still gives him plenty of recognition, but also with a little feeling of snubbiness for being ranked last on the list. In the end I didn’t feel right putting ahead of the other guys on this list. The Blazers have had a fantastic season in large part to Lillard’s offense. But, they still finished the season with just 49 wins and the 7th best record in the NBA. With a few more wins I may have felt more confident to move him up to 4 on this list.

4 – Kevin Durant – MVP Score – 22.5

The Positive

The thing that makes Kevin Durant so valuable is his ability to score, defend, and distribute. I was really surprised to find Durant in the top 25 players in assists this season. Especially, with so many injuries to the team this season you think he would fall into the trap of leaning on his own scoring ability more and not involving others. Clearly, Kevin Durant is a force on the offensive end. He is averaging over 26 points a game on a team that maybe only needs him to average 10 with how many other offensive weapons they have.

The Negative

KD would easily get into the top 3 conversation if he wouldn’t have missed so many games. With the record that Golden State has this year and how dominant they can be this is really the only glaring mark against Durant. He’s played in a total of 68 games this season and while that isn’t too terrible it really should be considered when determining how valuable a player is for the course of a single 82 game season.


Durant is obviously a valuable player. He has missed a lot of games this season and Golden State hasn’t been as dominant as they have in the past. If Curry had played as many games as Durant then he would have most likely replaced him here. When it’s all said and done you’ll be very hard pressed to find a player who has had both a better statistical season and led their team to a top 5 NBA record.


3 – Anthony Davis – MVP Score – 41

The Positive

Some of this season’s most dominant games have come from Anthony Davis. In one game this year Davis had 53 points, 18 rebounds, and shot 55% from the field. He is the league’s best big man. He’s averaged over 28 points a night and when Cousins went down with an injury this year it didn’t seem to phase him. Losing a player like Cousins would make most teams throw in the towel. Instead the Pelicans, led by Davis, persevered through and wound up with the 6 seed in the west. Often in MVP discussions you’ll be proposed to answer a hypothetical scenario for what a given team’s record would be without their star player. I think that it would be safe to assume that The Pelicans record wouldn’t be close to what it is without Davis. After the loss of Cousins the Pelicans managed to go 21-13 to end the season. With Cousins the Pel’s were 24-24. Once Cousins went down Davis was able to take a now worse team and make them better than they had been with their 2nd best player healthy. This is a huge positive.

The Negative

With most of these guys it is difficult to find negatives. With these last three players it is almost impossible. The one thing we can point to with Davis is the record. Even though he was able to win so many games without Cousins and earn the Pelicans a spot in the playoffs, it is still troubling to see the 24-24 record with Cousins healthy. Maybe it’s that Davis isn’t capable of playing alongside another superstar. If that’s the case then winning championships may avoid him for the rest of his career. Outside of winning the other troubling thing with Davis is his consistency. In a game in January against the Hawks he was only capable of putting up 8 points and grabbing 7 rebounds across almost 40 minutes of action. Obviously, this game resulted in a loss for a team that relies so much on his success. Davis can have some dominant games where he is the best player on the floor and still at times he can have nights where he looks like he just isn’t ready to be the league’s best player.


AD has probably been the best 2 way player this season. He plays the offensive and defensive side as well as anyone. He is going to be in these conversations for years to come as long as he can stay healthy. If he had one more games and proven a little more consistency he could have locked up maybe the 2 or even 1 spot. When it comes to being the league’s MVP you really need to have every area of your game down and then be dominant on the offensive floor. For now we will wait for Davis to make a more compelling case next year.


2 – LeBron James – MVP Score – 36.5

The Positive

The case for the last 2 guys are both quite strong. You couldn’t go wrong choosing either of the final guys as your 2017-18 MVP. A few people are saying this is Lebron’s best season yet. He is in the top 3 in the league in scoring, assists, and RPM wins. He does just as much offensively for his team as anyone else in the league. When you look at ESPN’s best single game performances for 2017-18, LeBron is listed more than any other player. You can find his name 11 times. This means that just over 10% of the NBA’s top 100 games played this season are held by LeBron. I believe that the most valuable single season should be made up of a large amount of valuable single games. All of this is being done without Kyrie and at age 33. LeBron may be the most feared offensive player during the regular season.

The Negative

I do believe that LeBron has a stronger offensive case for winning the MVP than any other player. You can’t find much negative in his offensive game. With that being said, you can see how important the other aspects of the game are. Offense is not the only important factor or thing we should look at. Obviously, his offense has not been enough to win more games than the Raptors, Celtics, and 76ers in the east. If you would have told me that the 76ers would have won more games than the Cavaliers at the beginning of the year then I would have assumed LeBron had joined them. When you have a player as polarizing as LeBron then he is going to affect every aspect of the game no matter what. If he is going hard on both ends of the floor then everyone else will follow suit. If he doesn’t seem to care on a given night, then that is going to affect how everyone else plays that night. He reminds me of how a mother can put a sense of either a dark cloud or a bright ray of sunshine over a household. The only team in the NBA with a worse defensive rating than the Cavaliers is the Phoenix Suns.


While team defense shouldn’t be the deciding factor for most MVP conversations I do believe it plays a huge role in this scenario. As we stated above, James is such a polarizing player that whatever he does affects his team. A team like the Cavaliers are so dependent on LeBron that he almost decides what kind of they will have. When it comes to the defensive floor in the regular season LeBron rarely gears up to play. He is at many times careless and lacks effort. When you get that from your most skilled and probably most talented defensive player that is going to cause you problems. When a player isn’t maximizing what their team could be in the regular season that causes them to lose value. LeBron could easily lift his team up toward the 1 or 2 seed every year with an increased effort on the defensive end.  Only getting the 4 seed coupled with his lack of effort really makes it difficult to give him such a prestigious and important award that other players have worked harder for.


1 – James Harden – MVP Score – 42

The Positive

Just like LeBron, Harden is in the top of the league in plenty of offensive categories. He is in the top 10 in assists, steals, overall RPM, and 3 pointers made. Not to mention that he leads the league in the following categories: points per minute, overall win share, offensive win share, points per game, offensive RPM, and RPM wins. The dude has led the Rockets to overtake the Warriors for best record in the league. This really is an impressive feat that needs to be at the least recognized if not rewarded. Without Harden the Rockets would probably have a really difficult time squeezing into the tight western conference playoffs. Not only this but he does crack the top 10 in a defensive category. That’s right, Harden is averaging almost 2 steals a night. The Rockets do not lean heavily on Harden to play defense but the fact that he is attributing in some noticeable way on that end is a huge positive.

The Negative

The negatives with Harden are going to be similar to Lebron’s. Although, with Harden his team is one of the best defensive teams in the league. He is notoriously bad on the defensive end, but this really has improved quite a bit over the last couple season. Like said above he is forcing steals and he isn’t easy to back down. The most negative thing we can find on him is his negative defensive RPM. Outside of this the worst we can say about him is that he has a stigma as one of the worst defensive players in the NBA. One thing we do wish was higher was his 3 point shooting percentage. He takes more threes than anyone else in the NBA and hits them at a 36% clip. This isn’t horrendous but isn’t to the level of some of the league’s best. Gerald Green has shot better from 3 this year, although that is in much less time. James actually doesn’t even crack the top 10 for best 3 point shooting percentage. Granted, he is most likely shooting plenty of step back threes but this is still a little troubling for someone so offensively praised.


The final 2 spots between Harden and LeBron really were not easy to determine. Overall Harden bests LeBron in a number of categories. The offensive categories are really close and LeBron probably has the edge on him here. On the defensive side of the ball it is basically impossible to argue for LeBron since he doesn’t give an effort. Harden is producing steals and his team’s defensive rating is ranked 6th. The last category that Harden has a huge advantage in is that his team has been the best during the regular season. The Cavaliers didn’t have an answer for them when they played back in February. The regular season MVP should be capable of leading his team to beat the best teams. James Harden does this all while producing the gaudy statistics everyone is looking for. In the end your MVP needs to not just be dominant in one facet of the game. He needs to be dominant in all areas. The closest player we have to that this season is James Harden.


MVP Scoring Explained




Recapping this NBA season would be a disaster without diving into some of this year’s most exciting rookies such as Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markkanen, and Lonzo Ball. Thankfully, this year we were rewarded with such awesome talent after having somewhat of a let down last season. When looking at these rookies we have to take into account their offensive and defensive statistics, how they’re helping their team win, and the all important eye test. This article is not trying to assess what these players will be in the future.

10 – De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings

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10 – De’Aaron Fox

Coming in at number 10 is the King’s own De’Aaron Fox. Fox has received a lot more playing time this season when the Cavaliers acquired George Hill via trade. This opened up doors for Fox to stop in and assume the point guard duties. He’s averaged close to 10 points a game most of this season. He’s been fine on the defensive end of the floor but still needs to work on his jump shot and will hopefully develop more strength as well.

9 – Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks

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9 – Dennis Smith Jr.

If this were a ranking based on pure athleticism then Dennis would most likely grab the top spot. Dennis acts like he wants to dunk on everyone he plays against. He’s not scared of anyone. Just watch this dunk attempt and you’ll see what I mean. He plays with a similar mentality to Russell Westbrook. The Mavericks have a good investment in their future as long as they can hold on to him.

8 – Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers

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8 – Lonzo Ball

It wasn’t easy placing Lonzo over Smith. They both can do a lot, but I felt as if Lonzo has been much more vital to the success the Lakers have had this season than Smith has. Lonzo isn’t a phenomenal scorer but he does contribute with great passing skills and is a solid defender. Early on Lonzo’s shooting was a huge problem, but as the season progressed he improved his shot. This is expected for a young rookie especially one who has been thrown into a large spotlight.

7 – Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns

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7 – Josh Jackson

Josh Jackson was similar to Lonzo Ball in the area of a slow start. It seems that the end of this season has been good for him. He has gotten more playing time, with help from a few injuries in Phoenix. His shooting percentage from three really bothers me and is one reason he isn’t higher on this list. He has been able to put up  decent numbers while Booker and Warren have been sidelined, but that may be a facade since we don’t see many W’s to back it up.

6 – Bogdan Bogdanovic – Sacramento Kings

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6 – Bogdan Bogdanovic

The second King to make this list is the 25 year old Bogdan Bogdanovic. The kid has shot the ball well this year. Just under 40% from three. He has a good understanding of the game and has been their go to guy at many points this season. Bogdan could be a very useful player for a team that needs to add some shooting.

5 – Kyle Kuzma – Los Angeles Lakers

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5 – Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma’s second half of the season wasn’t talked about as much as his first half. Before the all star break it seemed he was in plenty of ROY conversations. No one was expecting him to be the Laker in these discussions before the season kicked off. After the all star break Kuzma averaged 17.4 points. He is an offensive talent, but certainly needs a lot of work on the defensive side.

4 – Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls

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4 – Lauri Markkanen

This 7 foot forward has logged almost 30 minutes a night for the Bulls. The kid has been a great find and I’m sure Chicago is glad they have a youngster to build around. Lauri is praised for his hard work ethic. You can see it every time he steps on the court. There aren’t many pieces around him yet and it is hard to fault him for many of their losses. The Bulls could be a couple years and a couple moves away from having a very good team.

3 – Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics

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3 – Jayson Tatum

Jayson is a thrilling player to watch. Maybe it’s because he’s on the Boston Celtics and Brad Stevens knows how to use guys. Or, maybe Jayson is simply an extremely skilled player. Either way Tatum has executed well this season. For much of the year he led the league in three point shooting. He’s now heading into the playoffs as one of if not their primary scoring option.

2 – Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz

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2 – Donovan Mitchell

Well, this is what we’ve been waiting for. No matter who ends up at number 2 I’m going to be wrong. Donovan Mitchell is an unbelievable talent. It blows my mind to look back and see that this dude fell so late in the draft. Seeing this come together is a true testament to the work he’s put in and also to the Jazz for developing and giving him the opportunity to succeed. After leading the Jazz in scoring this season he is already in lists of greats such as Larry Bird and Lebron James. Not many rookies often lead teams in scoring but when they do they turn out to be a special kind of player. I think it would be a safe bet to say Donovan is going to be a special player.

1 – Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers

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1 – Ben Simmons

It is excruciatingly difficult to keep a guy out of the #1 spot when the only argument you are able to find against him is “he isn’t a rookie.” Although, I do agree with Donovan Mitchell’s latest fashion statement. The “he isn’t a rookie” argument is really hard to defend when the NBA recognizes him as a rookie. If Ben wasn’t recognized as a rookie and people were lobbying for him to be rookie of the year then we would have a problem and I would have to leave him off this list. Fortunately, this isn’t the case and I can bask in how incredible of a player this dude is. He really is something to watch. If you haven’t seen this guy play you need to make sure you’re watching the playoffs. He can pass, score, defend, and rebound. Ben averages over 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Not only this but he is able to guard some of the best players in the league. Ben grabs just under 2 steals a night. He has helped take the Sixers to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. His IQ is off the charts for any player, rookie or not. Ben just like Donovan Mitchell is a special player. Ben has done slightly more to earn himself the #1 spot on this list.

Honorable Mentions

(In no specific order) John Collins, Milos Teodosic, Frank Ntilikina, Josh Hart, OG Anunoby, Bam Adebayo, Jordan Bell, Cedi Osman.


If you had told the Boston Celtics that they would be holding the 2 seed with over 50 wins this season after losing Gordon Hayward on the first game of the season they may have had you checked for a concussion. The buzz around the the Celtics this off season once they landed Kyrie and Gordon would have had you thinking they changed their name to the “Hornets”.

I remember clearly on October 17 rushing through my work day so I could get home and prepare for the season opener. Not only was this the first time we as basketball fans would get to see Gordon Hayward reunited with his college coach Brad Stevens. We would also see Kyrie in Cleveland against the team he just abandoned. Whoever was in charge of making this season’s NBA schedule needed a huuuuge raise.

The beginning of this game felt like I was falling in love with the NBA all over again. The drama. The skill. Everything that makes the NBA great could be found in this game. With just under 8 minutes Jaylen Brown made his opening statement for why we need to pay close attention to how good he was going to be. All was right. My mouth was watering and it wasn’t because of the food I could smell my wife cooking. This season was going to be the best of my life.

And then.. with about 6 minutes and 52 seconds left in the first quarter. Kyrie had a beautiful lob set up for Hayward. This play was going to be a spark. It would ignite a bond and a union between 2 players that were destined to be perfect fits in a perfect system led by a perfect coach. This would be the play that brings everything together. Lebron’s reign in the east was being challenged. Or so we thought.

As Kyrie lobs a pass to the rim. Gordon makes a quick fake one way and heads to grab the ball just thrown in the air by Kyrie. If you watch the replay you can actually see Lebron prepared to disrupt this play before Kyrie has even geared up to make the pass. His instincts are remarkable. Unfortunately, in the process of breaking up this play Gordon comes down awkwardly on his foot.

As soon as Hayward came down the announcer knew what had happened. You could hear the shock in his voice as he claimed that “Hayward broke his leg”. Instead of this alley-oop being the play that claimed the throne, it was the one that potentially destroyed it. The game was so hyped and now it just felt as if no one wanted to even be there. The  picture after the incident posted above captures well the mood for that evening.

Despite this tragic event the Celtics knew they still had 81 games left to play. It wouldn’t be easy. The next night was their home opener against Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo came to town and didn’t share many condolences. The Greek Freak posted 37 points and began his MVP campaign.

The season started much worse than they ever expected. The C’s have obviously come quite a ways since then. After starting 0-2 they went on a 16 game winning streak. Since then we have learned that Jayson Tatum definitely was Ainge’s top pick in this year’s draft and rightfully so. Jaylen Brown also had much more room to spread his wings.

Now, the Celtics are entering the first round not only without Hayward but also without Kyrie. Is it doom and gloom all over again? Should we really count this team out? It seems that they take punch after punch but somehow manage to put things together and pull out a W. If anyone knows how to win it’s the Boston Celtics.





Four eastern conference teams have above a .500 winning percentage against Western conference teams this season. Four! When you look out west they have 9 teams that have above a .500 winning percentage against Eastern conference teams.

At the beginning of this season Paul Millsap made the decision to leave the Hawks and sign with the Nuggets. The Hawks are clearly tanking, and although Millsap did miss time with the Nuggets, they do have him back and are fighting for a spot in the Western conference playoffs.

Paul wasn’t the only big name to leave the East. Paul George and Jimmy Butler both were traded from their respective teams. The Bulls were left in shambles and a glimmer of hope with some young talent. The Pacers on the other hand have found a potential franchise star in Victor Oladipo.

Even when a big name in Gordon Hayward left the Jazz in the West for the Celtics in the East this summer, the Jazz still drafted a franchise player of their own in Donovan Mitchell. It really seems like the East can’t catch a break. You could easily argue that 7 of the 10 best players in the league are all playing for Western conference squads.

With the playoffs coming up everyone will be suspecting whoever wins the West to be the team to win the championship. Between lack of talent and injury plagued teams the East won’t stand a chance against the favored representatives out West. Or so we think..

We play the games for a reason. The East still has Lebron James. These 2 arguments for the Eastern conference having a shot may be considered by some as a cop out. But, even if the East doesn’t stand a chance this year I still wouldn’t count them out for years to come.

Even if Lebron were to head out west in the off-season I would still argue that the Eastern conference has a bright future. The West has plenty of talent. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sure if the East can compete with the talent for quite some time if they lose Lebron. But what the West doesn’t have is the Celtics and the 76ers.

Between Boston and Philadelphia it is really difficult to imagine the East continuing to be called names such as “the leastern conference”. Boston somehow manages to grab a top 10 pick almost every year. They have rising stars in Jaylen Brown & Jayson Tatum. Even the C’s current stars, Kyrie (26) and Hayward (28),  still have a few years before they’ll start a downward trend. Don’t even get me started on what this team could look like if they were able to steal Anthony Davis from New Orleans.

It doesn’t seem possible to be in a much better position than Boston. Philadelphia isn’t afraid to take the challenge. A core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Markelle Fultz may be the beginning of the new kings of the east. We haven’t seen much from Markelle Fultz this season. Without Fultz the 76ers are still in safe hands with Simmons lobbing the ball to Embiid. Embiid is age 24 and Simmons on 21.

The 76ers and Celtics were both able to manage a winning percentage against Western foes this year. If these teams are able to stay healthy (especially the sixers) then we may be looking at a new Eastern look. Pay attention these playoffs and see what some of these young guys can do. With both teams missing a star or two for some or all of the playoffs we’ll get to see even more of how valuable these guys have been all season long.


NBA Season Recap – 2017-2018

This NBA season has given me a sensory overload. So much has happened on the court that has led me to experience different reactions. Jaw Dropping plays. Eye-opening talent. I haven’t experienced an NBA season quite like this one. Over the next few days I’ll be running short posts to catch you up on everything that’s been going on. If you’ve missed a large portion of the season and are wanting to jump in for the playoffs then stay tuned! If you want to reminisce on a spectacular year then please join me! The topics will include…


I live in the midwest. I live where basketball grows. Here in the cornfields of Indiana we live for basketball. Outside of California and Texas I would venture to say NBA talent is grown largely from eastern states. Even with how much my state gives to the NBA the Western conference snatches it all. This season was the final straw.. I’m not sure what that means, but I won’t take it any longer. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. From Jimmy Butler to Paul George. The west must be trying to resemble the Wild West because they have no regard for us eastern conference fans.


If you haven’t heard about this story you must not be paying much attention. Anyway, I’ll dive deep into how tragic it was for the Celtics to lose Gordon Hayward on day freaking one. But as you probably know there were plenty of positives that resulted from a devastating and unfortunate injury.


In the 2003 draft we saw guys like LeBron, Melo, and D-Wade begin dominant careers. The 2017 draft could have possibly been the best thing since that. Only time will tell.. but of course we won’t wait for time. Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, and Donovan Mitchell have all made their mark and I am not afraid to make some bold predictions about where these dudes are headed. Oh.. right and apparently Ben Simmons will be discussed here since he’s technically a rookie.


“The Paul George trade may be the worst trade in NBA history” – “We dominated that Paul George trade” I’m sure these sentences have been shared by plenty of Pacer fans out there. I’ve loved Dipo ever since he was at IU. After a slow start in the league I never had expected him to make a jump like this so quickly. It’s been said that Victor is breaking all kinds of metrics for how a player is supposed to progress from season to season. He has taken leaps and bounds this season and I love it!


One thing that makes the NBA stand out from all other sports is the drama that comes with it. Sometimes I feel as if I am watching a soap opera. Damn, I love this game.

(Don’t get me wrong though, I HATE soap operas)


Adam Silver mixed things up with the All Star game this year. It went nicely to say the least. Granted, there were some stretches of going through the motions. The last minute of this game was potentially the best final minute of a game I have seen all season. Seeing the top 10 players in the league go all out is a true spectacle.


I take a quick glance around the league and see Dirk Nowitzki (39) almost dying on the court. D-Wade (36) is happy with coming off the bench. Carmelo Anthony (33) is barely the third option and a major defensive liability on a decent western conference squad. LeBron James (33)? He’s having the best year of his life. Maybe that is an exaggeration. Even if it is this dude is clearly a top 5 MVP candidate and looks like he’ll be leading the Cav’s in his 9th straight finals appearance. What. The. Hell. Shouldn’t he at least be moving away from his prime years by now??


After Golden State won the championship in 2015 they have been heavy favorites to repeat each year. The only other team we thought could compete was the Clevel.. err… I mean LeBron James. After last year’s performance and now without Kyrie I’m not sure if even Cleveland has any glimmer of hope of beating the Warriors. Enter the Houston Rockets. Could it be true? Is there a challenger? Is this real life?? We’ll find out.


Some people will tell you no single snowflake is exactly the same as any other. Well I’m here to inform you that no person on this planet has a definition of MVP that perfectly mirrors another. Luckily for you, I’m here to tell you what the best definition is and what you need to believe about this season’s MVP race.