Winning the MVP Award is the greatest regular-season accolade for players. It shows that they are not only the most valuable player to the team but the player who had the most impactful season. Looking back at past MVP winners, every player who has won the Award will be a Hall of Famer.
But what past positions did the past MVP winners play? We have compiled a list of the past 10 award winners per position, and a discussion will commence on each player's reign as an award. Here are the last 10 MVP Award winners per position.
Oscar Robertson: 1964
Magic Johnson: 1987, 1989, 1990
Steve Nash: 2005, 2006
Derrick Rose: 2011
Stephen Curry: 2015, 2016
Russell Westbrook: 2017
It is often difficult for a point guard to win an MVP. They are the smallest players on the court and have to rely on pure skill and floor leadership to make a major impact. Of course, there are some exceptions.
Oscar Robertson was a tremendous 1964 winner, averaging a near triple-double with 31.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, and 11.0 APG. It took 23 years later for Magic Johnson to win 3 MVP Awards in 4 years. Magic is the greatest point guard of all time and his ability to impact the game as a leader and playmaker cannot be compared. Of course, the most polarizing MVP Award winner was 2-time MVP, Steve Nash.
Nash won back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and 2006, as the best playmaker in the league. Nash was the engine for the Phoenix Suns who had a host of shooters and athletes under Mike D'Antoni's system. Nash was deserving of an MVP Award but many felt that Kobe Bryant deserved the one in 2006. 5 years later, we saw a young Derrick Rose explode onto the scene.
Rose averaged 25.0 PPG and 7.7 APG while becoming the first dominant star to take hold of Chicago since Michael Jordan. Rose was so dominant, that he even took the Award from a prime LeBron James.
Stephen Curry later won back-to-back MVPs and solidified himself as the best point guard in the world. Curry's dominance led the Warriors to 3 titles in 4 years, and Curry even won the first-ever unanimous MVP in 2016. Russell Westbrook, the last point guard to win the Award, did it in 2017 after carrying a poor Oklahoma City Thunder squad as Kevin Durant left the team high and dry.
Michael Jordan: 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998
Allen Iverson: 2001
Kobe Bryant: 2008
James Harden: 2018
This crop of MVP shooting guards was truly dominant and all hold legendary status. Of course, the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan won 5 MVP Awards as a member of the Chicago Bulls. Jordan was the best player in the world in his rookie season, and he could have won the MVP award every year, but 5 is a strong number considering he also has 6 Finals MVPs to his name.
3 years after Jordan's last MVP Award win, Allen Iverson did it by averaging 31.1 PPG and carrying an average Sixers team to the Finals. Iverson was truly deserving of the MVP Award as the best offensive player in the league. Kobe Bryant, the man who deserved at least one more MVP Award, won it in 2008 by averaging 28.3 PPG and carrying the Lakers to the NBA Finals.
The last shooting guard to win the award was James Harden who finished second in MVP voting a year prior. Harden averaged 30.4 PPG and 8.8 APG for the Rockets and started his reign as the best guard in the league.
Julius Erving: 1981
Larry Bird: 1984, 1985, 1986
LeBron James: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
Kevin Durant: 2014
Small forwards have an edge in winning an MVP Award because they have a mix of size and athleticism without any true weakness in a physical sense. Dr. J, Julius Erving, won the MVP in 1981 averaging 24.6 PPG and 8.0 RPG for the Philadelphia 76ers. 3 years later, Larry Bird won 3 straight MVP Awards.
Bird was the best player during that time, putting up spectacular shooting numbers and owning the stat sheet. Bird averaged over 25 PPG, 10 RPG, and 6 APG over those three years and won 2 NBA titles during that span. LeBron James was the next small forward to own the MVP Award, winning 4 awards in back-to-back fashion in 2009, 2010, and then in 2012 and 2013.
After LeBron's final MVP Award, Kevin Durant was the last small forward to win it in 2014 by averaging 32.0 PPG and 7.4 RPG for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a 25-year old offensive superstar. Of course, LeBron and Durant have been the two best small forwards over the past 2 decades.
Bob McAdoo: 1975
Charles Barkley: 1993
Karl Malone: 1997, 1999
Tim Duncan: 2002, 2003
Kevin Garnett: 2004
Dirk Nowitzki: 2007
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 2019, 2020
There has been some all-time great power forwards in NBA history. The last power forward winner over the last 10 was Bob McAdoo. As a superstar for the Buffalo Braves, McAdoo averaged a whopping 34.5 PPG and 14.1 RPG. McAdoo is considered one of the most underappreciated stars ever and is a top-50 player amongst his peers.
It took 18 years later for Charles Barkley to win the MVP Award as the next power forward. Barkley was a force inside the paint and despite being undersized at 6'6", he averaged 25.6 PPG and 12.2 RPG. 4 years later, Malone won the MVP Award and did it again in 1999. Malone put up 27.4 PPG and 23.8 PPG respectively and was the undisputed best power forward in the NBA during that time.
Tim Duncan took over from The Mailman, winning MVP Awards in 2002 and 2003. Duncan was a revolutionary player during that time because he played below the rim yet had an immense impact as a member of the Spurs. Duncan also captured the NBA title in 1999 and would go on to win 4 more during his career.
Kevin Garnett deserved the MVP in 2004 after averaging 24.2 PPG, 13.9 RPG, and 5.0 APG. Garnett was a finesse scorer who preferred to do his damage from outside the paint, but he carried the Minnesota Timberwolves to the best record in the Western Conference which earned him the MVP.
Dirk Nowitzki was the next power forward to win the MVP in 2007, averaging 24.6 PPG and leading Dallas to the best record in the NBA at 67 wins. Of course, that was also the year the Mavericks were upset in the first round by the Golden State Warriors. The last power forward to win the MVP Award was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who did it in back-to-back fashion in 2019 and 2020.
We have yet to see a player like Giannis with his size and athleticism, and he ran riot in the NBA during those 2 years. Leading the Bucks to the best record in the NBA each time, The Greek Freak was the last power forward to win the award.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 1976, 1977, 1980
Bill Walton: 1978
Moses Malone: 1979, 1982, 1983
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994
David Robinson: 1995
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000
It was amazing how centers ruled the NBA before the past 2 decades. A center was absolutely essential to a winning team because their size and skill in the post could not be matched by smaller guards and forwards. Of course, the game is much different now and rule changes favor smaller players much more.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, arguably the most accomplished basketball player ever, won 6 MVP Awards over his legendary career. When looking at the past ten, he had 3 of them. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's skyhook is the most unstoppable shot in history and the center also dominated the defensive end as well.
Bill Walton and Moses Malone were able to sneak in an MVP Award during Abdul-Jabbar's reign on the league, with their size and skill in the post earning them the accolade. Walton won the MVP Award a year after winning the Finals MVP and averaged 18.9 PPG and 11.2 RPG. Moses won the Award in 1979 and later won them in 1982 and 1983. Moses is one of the most underrated superstars ever and a first-ballot Hall of Famer with 3 total MVP Awards.
Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon won the MVP in 1994 after averaging 27.3 PPG and 11.9 RPG while also leading the Rockets to an NBA title. A year later, another center won the Award as David Robinson captured the MVP averaging 27.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 3.2 BPG. The last center to accomplish the award was The Diesel, Shaquille O'Neal, who surprisingly only won one MVP Award over his entire career.
O'Neal did it in the year 2000 by putting up 29.7 PPG and 13.6 RPG. O'Neal was arguably the best player in the NBA that year and he was the last center to win the Award. Of course, a center likely wins the award this year in 2021, as either Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid will break this 20-year drought.
Credit for an idea: CrossNposter