At the end of the year, each MVP voter has to ask themselves one crucial question: What is going to be the overriding factor that determines who gets my first-place vote?
Was it the exceeding of expectations, both personally and for his team? (Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul fall into this category this season).
Was it pure statistical greatness for a highly successful team? (LeBron James and Kevin Durant fit into this mix).
Is it the “Where would they be without him” question? (This brings Kobe Bryant and James Harden into the discussion).
It is different for each voter, and it can change from year to year. Last season, I was one of six voters who cast a first-place vote for Chris Paul, both for his on-the-court prowess and for what he brought to the bigger picture for the Clippers, who were relevant and competitive for the first time in ages.
As I wrote when I started publishing these rankings more than two months ago, the only decision that ultimately matters is the one each voter makes when submitting their final ballot. Until then, everyone has the right to alter their opinions and change their minds. These rankings simply serve as a window into my thought process as the season goes along.
We are not yet at the midpoint of the season, but it appears this could be shaping up as a three-man race between James, Anthony and Paul — with Kevin Durant on the fringe and poised to make it a foursome if the Thunder can string together another double-digit winning streak that separates them from the rest of the West. If Durant finishes second in the scoring race and OKC finishes anywhere but first in the West, his chances are greatly diminished.
Anyway, that is the big picture.
This weekly feature is about whimsy, and we will have the occasional week-to-week big swing.
Is this one of those weeks? Onto the ranks to find out …