Who’s who of rising NBA stars mark our list of future Kia MVP candidates

Who’s who of rising stars mark our list of future Kia MVP candidates

When NBA training camps open up next month eight of the last nine winners of the Kia MVP Award will take the court with another MVP, an unprecedented concentration of star power.

There’s Kevin Durant (2014) and Stephen Curry (’15 and ’16) in Oakland and Derrick Rose (’11) and LeBron James (’09, ’10, ’12 and ’13) in Cleveland.

Only the reigning Kia MVP, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, will have that stage to himself. And he has to share the spotlight this season with All-Star forward Paul George, acquired in a trade this summer with Indiana .

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With all due respect to Rockets GM Daryl Morey, some of us love NBA awards season and the method to the madness. On this list, Harden ranks as the closest thing to a Kia MVP without actually having one. He’s been close in two of the last three seasons and at the rate he’s going, he’s destined for a breakthrough — provided the roster changes in Houston produce immediate dividends.

He also has never reached the conference finals and is on the wrong side of 30 and he’ll be looking for big money next summer. By trading for him without a parachute, the Rockets have ceded most leverage in the upcoming contract talks to Paul, because if he leaves, they’ll have nothing to show for the deal except broken dreams.

But that’s a cheap NBA jerseys from china story for next summer. Right now, Harden has a mighty co-star and a fair chance to raise the Rockets among the two or three very best teams in the NBA.

It all depends on how he and Paul mesh. Harden played point guard last season in a system that new coach Mike D’Antoni designed for his cheap jerseys wholesale, and the transition went well enough to make the MVP race with eventual winner Russell Westbrook an interesting one. D’Antoni discovered what everyone already knew, that Harden is ball-dominant and flourishes when he’s at the controls of the offense.

The recurring scene was Harden dribbling upcourt, then dribbling around the perimeter, then either launching a step-back three-pointer or driving to the rim or dishing to one of four teammates standing on the three-point circle. He’s so difficult to guard one-on-one, given his ability to break down a defense, which made the Rockets tough to stop especially when the shots fell.

And there’s no concern to be found in the organization about offensive stagnation in potential small ball lineups with Mbah a Moute and Tucker on the floor with Harden and Paul. Those two could well finish games for the Rockets with Capela up front, or Mbah a Moute could even be at center in some positionless lineups.

“Just watching them, they both shoot between 35 and 40 percent on threes,” D’Antoni said. “You have a lot of players who you’d say are good players who shoot 37 percent. (Mbah a Moute) shot 40 last year from the corner. Sometimes those labels that the league puts on players aren’t right. They’ve changed. And you can’t get them off of your , believe me. If you game plan against us, I guess you’d play off of Luc. They can try.”

Rockets #13 James Harden Black 2015 All Star Stitched NBA Jersey

Rockets #13 James Harden Black 2015 All Star Stitched NBA Jersey

Fortunately, they will be able to get started on time. There was no damage to Toyota Center, which served as an overflow shelter during the hurricane, and no one on the team with homes in Houston suffered any major damage to property.

Like every other team in the West, Houston will begin the season separated by the immense gulf between itself and the Warriors, a leviathan spoken of in whispers around the league. No one is under any illusions: it will take something no one can currently see to beat the Warriors.

But you have to try. Houston is trying.

“So far the chemistry has been off the charts,” D’Antoni said. “That’s led by Chris and James. The other guys have good roles. They’re happy. We could be pretty good if we don’t screw it up.”

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