We are all seeing James Harden have yet another dominant season, he is putting up insane numbers while playing alongside another ball handler which some said he couldn’t. It is almost a given at this point that he has MVP locked up. But in case something happens, or just for the fun of it, who is second in MVP voting? Lets throw out a few names, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and Demar DeRozan. I will be making a case for each of them and why they could deserve my made up award: runner up MVP.
Anthony Davis: Has been playing out of his mind recently with averages of 31.4 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 3.2 BLK since his only co star Demarcus Cousins went down. During this stretch the Pelicans have also gone 12-7 (one of these losses came when Davis was out) which has placed them at the 5 seed in a very tough Western Conference. Anthony Davis is back as the only star player on the New Orleans Pelicans, except this time he’s carrying them to wins.
Damian Lillard: A top 3 point guard in the league (a topic for another time) who is putting up almost his best statistical season yet, has led the Portland Trail Blazers to the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. After being swept in the first round last season by the warriors after making a very late 8th seed push, the Blazers were not even favorites to make the playoffs for some (ESPN, projects.fivethirtyeight.com, etc.) they are currently on a 10 game winning streak and have beaten some very good teams in the process including: two wins against the defending champs Warriors, Thunder, and Wolves (Granted they didn’t have Butler). During this streak that has solidified them as the 3rd seed, Lillard is averaging 32.5 PPG and 6.4 AST. The Blazers run and his success with a team some thought would not even make the playoffs makes him a runner up MVP candidate.
Demar DeRozan: The Toronto Raptors are a force to be reckoned with this NBA season, and while some of their success can attributed to a new style of play, DeRozan is also the best player on the team and has adjusted well to the new style of play with new career highs in AST, 3PG% (he technically shot better in 2015-16 but is shooting almost 2 more threes a game this season with only a 1.9% lower rate). DeRozan has led the Raptors to the 1st seed in the East along with the 3rd best offense and 5th best defense in the entire NBA (stats like that usually equal a finals run, just saying).
So there are my picks and consensus picks from fans and analysts alike for favorites for runner up MVP along with their strongest cases for why they can be there.