If you’re looking for more season predictions from ESPN, they’ve rolled out their 2014 NBA Summer Forecast for Most Valuable Player. While LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers was chosen as the prediction for 2015 NBA MVP (received 230 votes), Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin appeared on the top-5 list.
With 18 votes, Paul was ranked 4th on the list behind James, Kevin Durant (OKC, 180 votes), and Derrick Rose (CHI, 18). Finishing fourth would be par for the course in Paul’s career. Since the 2007-08 season, Paul has finished top-5 in MVP voting four times, his highest finish being second behind Kobe Bryant in 2008. If he can remain healthy and the Clippers win 60-plus games, there’s an outside chance he could win his first MVP award.
With 16 votes, Griffin finished behind Paul at 5th. This is an interesting placement despite Griffin finishing 3rd in MVP voting last season behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Yes Griffin finished with the best season of his career, but his leap into superstardom came at the expense of Chris Paul’s health. The numbers didn’t change much, but he was forced to do more in Paul’s absence and this quickly altered his public perception which, in turn, led to Griffin landing high in MVP voting.
If ESPN’s MVP predictions were to come true, the Clippers duo would be pulling off a feat that hasn’t been witnessed for almost a decade: two teammates finishing top-5 in MVP voting. The last two teammates to do this were Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal who did it in 2002 and 2003. With these two playing at an elite level while dominating in both the regular season and postseason, it’s easy to see why they both were MVP candidates. Essentially, this duo and team is everything we wish and hope for the Clippers to be.
In fact, since the ’79-80 season, two teammates being voted in has been done a total of 10 times: Larry Bird and company (Tiny Archibald in ’80, Robert Parish in ’82, Kevin McHale in ’87), Moses Malone and Julius Irving in ’83, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (pulled it off three years in a row, from 84 to 86), and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in ’96. Of these duos, only Malone and Jordan won the actual award in these years.
If the Clippers can win 60 games, it’s possible that Paul and Griffin can land in the top-5 for MVP voting. The issue is whether voters will mainly attribute the success of LA–and other teams–to one player. If this is done, it’ll be tougher for the two to appear together as superstars in Stephen Curry, James Harden, Tony Parker, and Dirk Nowitzki all in the fold.
But hey, like Kevin Garnett said… anything is possible.