It seems like every other day we see another 30-point triple-double performance from either Russell Westbrook or James Harden; many whom believe to be the stand alone candidates for the MVP.
Nobody is paying attention to a certain All Star balling out in Boston, though.
Isaiah Thomas is the NBA’s shortest active player at 5’9” but don’t let that fool you. In a guard-heavy roster, Thomas leads the Celtics in points and assists and has consistently come up big in the fourth quarter during crunch time.
Thomas doesn't have the highlight dunks or flashy dance moves, he just goes by his business and plays hard. That mentality and approach has resulted in career high numbers in basically every aspect of the game. Every superstar should be dependable in clutch situations and nobody is better than Thomas in the fourth quarter. His 10 points on 47% shooting in the final term leads the NBA; an incredible feat for an undersized point guard who often draws the oppositions top defender late in games.
Thomas’ heroics this year have been respected enough to earn his second-straight All Star selection, however, an appearance in New Orleans isn’t the pinnacle of what Thomas can achieve and he'll be the first one to tell you, too.
While appearing on The Ringer NBA Show, Isaiah reflected on in his recent form:
“Not to be cocky, but I feel like I’m the best player in the world,” Thomas says. “That’s just the work I put in, and if you don’t feel like that, then you’re cheating yourself.”
Just like everything else in society today, many were quick to take to social media and shut Thomas' comments down, defending the likes of Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant who are all currently having historic seasons in their own respect.
Just take a look at how Thomas' numbers this year are matching up against his peers:
I know what you’re thinking – the information above doesn't exactly scream 'ISAIAH THOMAS for MVP' but bare with me.
Lebron James is already a four-time MVP and has made it pretty clear that his main priority is lifting up the Larry O'Brien trophy for the fourth time. If that means limiting his minutes to the point where his statistical achievements dismiss him from the MVP discussion, then so be it.
Kevin Durant is having a historically efficient year in his first season with the Golden State Warriors. Yes, the same Golden State Warriors team that won 73 games without Durant last year. That's a huge asterisk next to his name and one I believe will be too significant to proclaim KD as the most valuable player in this league, let alone his own team.
James Harden has exploded for the Rockets under Mike D’antoni’s offensive system and has a legitimate shot at being the first player to lead the NBA in points and assists since Nate Archibald did during the 1983-84 season. The reoccurring issue with Harden is that he takes too many defensive possessions off and is often the clear liability for Houston on that side of the ball - but then again it's a D'antoni coached team, where defence is rarely a point of focus.
Russell Westbrook is by far the most favourable candidate given the athletic guard is averaging a 30-point triple-double while keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder competitive in the Western Conference without the services of former MVP teammate, Kevin Durant. If Westbrook channels his inner Oscar Robinson and averages a triple-double while leading the Thunder to the playoffs, he will be extremely tough to overlook.
It's difficult to argue that the individual brilliance from the NBA's top stars have been anything short of miraculous through the first half of the season and any of the five players above have a legitimate shot at lifting the Maurice Podoloff trophy.
However if Thomas can continue his path of destruction terrorising opposing defences and elevate the Celtics as a legitimate contender in the East, it’s not outlandish to think the “Pizza Guy” can deliver Boston’s first MVP award since Larry Bird.