I am undecided.
My MVP ballot is sitting in my inbox, still blank.
Of course, it is always blank with three days left in the season, because the NBA allows me to wait until all 82 games are played before making up my mind with finality. But what’s different this year is that I truly do not know who I will be putting in the first slot and who I will be putting in the second.
This is the toughest MVP race I have ever voted in, and with good reason. James Harden is worthy. Stephen Curry is worthy. It seems unfair to list one of them ahead of the other.
But life is not fair, and every now and then we have to make tough choices.
With Curry, there are so many factors working in his favor. He has been the alpha dog on a Golden State Warriors team that has run away with the West (Steve Kerr will be getting my vote for Coach of the Year). He would be among the NBA scoring leaders instead of sitting in sixth (24.0) if his team had not been involved in so many blowout wins, allowing him to sit out so many fourth quarters and thereby reducing his minutes per game to 32.9 — ranked 40th in the NBA. His team has 65 wins and counting. He has broken more ankles than Allen Iverson did in his heyday. He has been the most mesmerizing player to watch over the entirety of the 82-game season, although Russell Westbrook has overtaken him in that department for the past eight weeks. He set a new record for 3-pointers made in a season.
With Harden, there are just as many factors that would justify a first-place vote. He has carried his team despite prolonged injury absences to Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones and Donatas Montiejunas. He leads the NBA in free throws — not because he is a flopper, as some of my tweeps have suggested, but because he is a master at drawing contact and finishing at the rim. I watched him get absolutely hacked on two third-quarter drives against the Pelicans on Sunday night as he reached 30 points for the league-leading 35th time, and the refs swallowed their whistles both times. He plays defense with a newfound vigor, lading all shooting guards in steals. But he is so much more than a shooting guard, more of a de facto point guard on a team with fewer offensive weapons than what Curry has alongside him on the Warriors.
I always like to say the operative word in casting an MVP vote is the word “valuable.” Last year when I voted Blake Griffin second, it was because of the value he brought to the Clippers, lading them to the most wins in franchise history — and more wins than the more popular No. 2 choice, LeBron James.
It is an honor and a privilege to vote on this award, and a lot more deep thought will go into my decision before I hit the send button on my ballot sometime in the wee hours of Thursday morning (the deadline is noon EDT Thursday).
Who do you like? Go ahead and make your voice heard in this poll.
Who do I like for 3rd place? That answer might surprise you, and it is contained in this interview with Pete Mundo of CineSport.
Chris Sheridan, publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com, is an official MVP voter. Follow him on Twitter.