July 8, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard James Harden, guard Chris Paul, guard Kevin Durant and forward LeBron James during practice at the UNLV Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN Forecast Has Paul Finishing 3rd In MVP for 2013-14

It’s Lebron James’ world and it’ll be for another year. In their yearly forecast ranging from conference rankings to award winners, ESPN has Lebron James winning his fifth MVP in six years in the 2013-14 season with Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul coming in third place (Kevin Durant second).

This is familiar territory for Paul. Since joining the NBA in 2005, Chris has finished in the top-five of MVP voting four times out of the last five NBA seasons including a second-place finish to Kobe Bryant in 2007-08. Last season Paul finished fourth behind Lebron, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

Even with Lebron reigning terror on the NBA amid his prime, I’m inclined to think that this year Paul has a huge chance in topping the King from his high-chair.

There’s no reason to think that Paul is in for a decline entering 2013, so the individual numbers will be there. Last season the best point guard in the NBA averaged 16.9 points on 48 percent shooting and 9.7 assists per game while boasting a PER of 26.4 (3rd best in the league), an offensive rating of 127.0 (2nd best), and 13.9 win shares (3rd best). These are elite numbers and everything you want out of a MVP candidate.

Then comes the team aspect of it. We saw with Kobe Bryant last season that a good season means little to those who vote for the MVP award as his Los Angeles Lakers spent the latter end of the season fighting for a playoff seed. This Clippers team has potential. The additions of J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley will do wonders for Paul and the Clips offense. And in the regular season? You can win a lot of games solely off having better players than everyone else. That’s what in store for LAC. If the Clips can topple the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder as the number one seed in the West (the best record in the NBA would help also), then the MVP is his.

These will help, but ultimately the narratives have a lot to do with who wins MVP. Steve Nash winning back-to-back MVP’s? Narrative. Kobe winning during Paul’s historical 08-09 season? That was narrative led. Derrick Rose winning after Lebron James took his talents to South Beach? Also narrative driven. While Lob City has been a huge media plug since Paul’s joined the club, I get the feeling he doesn’t the narrative side down pact. That belongs to Lebron (historical stretch), Kevin Durant (tired of finishing 2nd), Kobe Bryant (bouncing back from achilles) and Derrick Rose (#thereturn).

It’s plain and simple: If the Clippers and Paul do what they’ve prepared themselves to do and come out on top at the end of the regular season then there’s a huge chance Chris Paul can win the award. We’ll see.

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