NBA MVP Watch: Chris Bosh Is Warming Up
When the discovery of blood clots stymied Chris Bosh's stellar campaign a year ago, he knew his season was over. But what he didn't know was whether or not his career as a basketball player was over as well.
Bosh had a lot to prove coming back from last season's unfortunate happenstance, but he has bounced back without skipping a beat. He has returned to All-Star form and has led the Heat to the upper ranks in the East. Bosh has powered his way into the MVP discussion thanks to his efficient shooting and is currently ranked fifth in nERD.
For those unfamiliar, nERD is our in-house metric that measures a player's contributions throughout the course of a season based on their efficiency. Comparable to Win Shares, this ranking gives an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would win with that player as one of their starters. The rating will represent a player's total contribution over an 82-game season, not just the games played so far this year.
Bosh is joined by a familiar bunch of ballers in the top five.
5. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
nERD Score: 13.6
Team Record: 21-13
Did you know that Chris Bosh has failed to sink a three-pointer in just three games this season? He is shooting a career-high 41% and is not just getting lucky either, as he is attempting more treys per game (4.4) than ever before. Bosh has increased the "flick in his wrist" as of late, as he has totaled four games with 20-plus field goal attempts over the past two weeks, a trend he may want to continue as he's converted those attempts into 25.8 points in each of the contests.
4. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
nERD Score: 17.5
Team Record: 24-11
So far, the new year has not been kind to Russell Westbrook as he's averaged an uncharacteristic 16.5 points on 26% field goal shooting. Nevertheless, he has dished out 11 dimes per game in January and remains tops in several key categories. Westbrook maintains his top status in steals (2.49), ranks third in assists (9.5), and is fifth in scoring (25.3). Oh, but he sits behind only James Harden as the league's turnover king with 4.3 oopsies per game.
3. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
nERD Score: 17.9
Team Record: 24-11
There is some concern over Kevin Durant's recent toe injury, as he will reportedly miss his second straight game versus the Grizzlies on Wednesday. The Thunder will want him back ASAP as Durant continues to torch the net at a blistering rate. As expected, Durant is the league's third leading scorer (26.6) and ninth best free throw shooter (89%), but surprisingly, he is sixth in two-point field goal percentage (57%). In addition to Durant's improved shooting efficiency, he is on pace to set a career-high on the defensive end in blocks (1.4).
2. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
nERD Score: 24.3
Team Record: 30-6
Not only are the Spurs steadily closing the gap on the Warriors in the league standings, but Kawhi Leonard has been inching closer to owning the best nERD score as well. The Spurs have only one loss in their last 13 games, and in those games, Leonard averaged 20.8 points on beastly percentages of 55% from the field, 50% from the three-point line, and 93% from the charity stripe. Add to that 2.4 thefts and only 1.1 giveaways a game and you can clearly see why Leonard is no joke for MVP consideration this year.
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
nERD Score: 24.5
Team Record: 32-2
The growing legend of Stephen Curry took a rare pause just before the new year as he recorded back-to-back DNP's. Curry struggled during his first game back as he tallied season-lows in minutes (15), points (5), and field goal attempts (6). However, he regained MVP-status in the following game by notching 30 points which included five three-pointers. Even if Curry continues to step onto the court, it is a strong possibility that his playing time will be closely monitored due to his shin injury.