Warriors

Steph Curry faces long odds to be NBA MVP again, even if he deserves it

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AP

Steph Curry faces long odds to be NBA MVP again, even if he deserves it

The Warriors return from the All-Star break to host the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, beginning a stretch of the final 25 regular-season games leading into the playoffs.

Those 25 games represent Steph Curry's final chance to convince the powers that be that he is the NBA's Most Valuable Player for a third time.

He certainly has a case. But for a variety of reasons, let's just get this out of the way now:

Barring an extended stretch that would seem insane even for Curry, it's just not happening this year.

It's no fault of Curry's own. He's in the midst of arguably his second-best season ever, behind only his unanimous MVP campaign of 2015-16.

That season, Curry averaged 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field, 45.4 percent from 3-point range and 90.8 percent from the free-throw line.

So far this season, Curry is averaging 28.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per contest on 48.8 percent shooting from the field, 44.4 percent from beyond the arc and 92.2 percent from the charity stripe. And that's after shooting uncharacteristically poorly over Golden State's final four games before the break.

Curry leads all NBA players in average plus-minus (plus-9.7 points per game). He ranks first among all qualifying players in offensive rating (120.1 points per 100 possessions) and first among all qualifying guards in true shooting percentage (66.0 percent). 

Perhaps nothing clarifies Curry's value quite like his importance to his own team. The Warriors (41-16) hold the best record in the Western Conference, but Golden State is just 5-6 this season in games its star point guard has missed.

[RELATED: Outsider Observations: Dubs face questions down backstretch]

Really, the main reason Curry won't win a third MVP this year has nothing to do with him. It has everything to do with who is around him, and who isn't around the other main contenders for the award.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Milwaukee Bucks this season, who just happen to hold the league's best record at 43-14.

James Harden leads the league in scoring, and has totaled at least 30 points in every Houston Rockets game since Dec. 13.

Paul George sits behind Harden and just ahead of Curry with an average of 28.7 points per contest (second in the NBA), and the Oklahoma City Thunder star arguably has been the best two-way player in the NBA this season.

Assuming each of those three players are the most valuable on their respective teams, that would make the Robin to their Batman a combination of Khris Middleton, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, respectively.

Two of those running mates were All-Stars. The one that wasn't -- Paul -- probably would have been if not for missing 22 games because of injury.

Still, none of those guys are Kevin Durant, who was named MVP of the NBA All-Star Game.

Nor do any of Curry's main competitors have a supporting cast with the likes of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins.

[RELATED: Curry sneaks in odd phrases at All-Star for Jimmy Fallon]

That's not Curry's fault, but to think it won't matter in voters' minds is just being naive. The Warriors don't have the record advantage they've enjoyed in years past, so that's one less argument in his favor. Voters also seem to enjoy "spreading the love," so to speak.

So, yes, barring something insane, Curry almost certainly will have to wait at least another year to add a third MVP trophy to his loaded shelves. Perhaps if the Warriors' roster makeup significantly changes this offseason -- Durant surely will play a role -- he'll have a better shot at it next year.

Then again, if anyone is capable of something insane, it's the guy who became the first person ever to get all the MVP voters to agree on something.

Steph Curry loves idea of Draymond Green shooting more for Warriors

Steph Curry loves idea of Draymond Green shooting more for Warriors

Draymond Green's most prolific shooting seasons came in the two years before Kevin Durant joined the Warriors.

In 2014-15, the first year of the Warriors' historic NBA Finals run, Green averaged 9.7 shots per game. The next season he averaged a career-high 10.1 shots.

Once Durant arrived in 2016, Green became the fourth option for the Warriors and peaked at 8.8 shots per game in 2017-18.

But with Durant now in Brooklyn and Klay Thompson is on the mend, Green will likely get close to his career high again, and teammate Steph Curry is all for it.

“I love it,” Curry told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson. “That’s what you want to see.”

Curry and new Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell will shoulder a bulk of the scoring until Thompson returns, but with so many young, unproven players on the roster, Green will need to score in order for the Warriors to win games.

For reference, Green averaged 8.3 shots in four preseason games. We know it's a small sample size and the Warriors were working on a lot of things during the exhibition season, but it would be beneficial for the Warriors if Green becomes more aggressive when the games start counting on Thursday.

[RELATED: Greatness of Draymond dependent on 3-point shooting]

If players like Kevon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marquese Chriss, Glenn Robinson and Jordan Poole can pick up big chunks of the scoring load, it's possible that Green doesn't need to shoot as much. But all of those players come with question marks surrounding their health or experience.

So Green should heed Curry's words aim for 10 shots a game. The only time he reached that number, the Warriors won 73 games.

Nick Young predicts Warriors miss playoffs, Lakers win 2020 NBA title

Nick Young predicts Warriors miss playoffs, Lakers win 2020 NBA title

Nick Young has never been one to blend in with the crowd, and he's not about to change anytime soon.

Even though his NBA playing days are behind him, Young still is very much keeping tabs on the league, and -- this might shock you -- he has some noteworthy opinions. In speaking to Adam Caparell of Complex, Young offered some thoughts on the upcoming NBA season, and as you'd expect, he didn't shy away from hot takes.

One of those takes, in particular, concerned the Warriors.

When asked if he had one crazy prediction for the upcoming NBA season, Young provided a double dose.

"I will say either New Orleans making the eighth seed or Denver not making the playoffs," Young initially replied. "I don't think the Warriors going to make it this year. If they do, it's the eighth seed."

Predictions for the Warriors are all over the place, and Swaggy P is no different. ESPN projects Golden State as the third-best NBA team over the next three seasons, but some of the company's personalities have a considerably lower opinion of the Dubs.

[RELATED: Why center-by-committee is Warriors' best course of action]

Young won his one and only NBA championship as a member of the Warriors, but clearly, that's not biasing his predictions. As for who he thinks the 2019-20 NBA champion will be, however, he went with one of the other five teams he played for in his 12-year career.

"Lakers."

I suppose they can't all be hot takes.

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