Award Watch: 2010-2011 NBA MVP
As always, when deciding on these MVP rankings, we factor in individual player production (via both standard stats and advanced metrics) as well as team performance/success…
1. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls (24.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 8.2 apg):
The Chicago Bulls continued to ascend towards the top of the Eastern Conference in February, compiling an impressive 8-3 record despite playing eight of their 11 contests on the road. The driving force behind the Bulls last month, just as it has been all season long, was all-world point guard Derrick Rose. Rose, whose breakout season has vaulted him to elite NBA status, continues to take his game to even more impressive, unseen levels. During games played in February, Derrick averaged 26.4 points and 8.2 assists. It was the first time all season that any NBA player averaged at least 26 points and eight dimes per contest. Moreover, it was the highest scoring average by a Bulls player in any month since Michael Jordan averaged 28.9 ppg in March of 1998. If Rose continues at this remarkable pace, he should also become the first Chicagoan to be crowned NBA MVP since MJ as well…
2. Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic (23.2 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg):
Very few players in recent NBA history impact the game on both ends of the floor. We know Howard is absolutely dominant defensively, but his offense is slowly but surely improving as well. Howard currently finds himself ninth in the league in scoring, which means he may well become just the 10th player in NBA history to finish a season in the top-10 in the following four statistical categories: scoring, field-goal percentage, blocked shots, and rebounds. Here are two great tidbits from Elias Sports Bureau to further underscore Howard’s recent exploits: Dwight scored only 14 points in Thursday’s win over Miami, but he also contributed 18 rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots to the cause for the Magic. It’s the first time in Howard’s NBA career that he’s had at least 15 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks in one game, and it’s only the fifth such game by an NBA player over the last three seasons. The other players to do that were Marcus Camby and Pau Gasol in 2009-10, and Darko Milicic and Tim Duncan earlier this season. However, Howard’s 20/10 streak was snapped Thursday night. Per Elias, From D Howard’s 30 points and 16 rebounds against the Knicks on Tuesday night had given him 11 consecutive games with 20 or more points and at least 10 rebounds. Only two other NBA players had 20/10 (points/rebounds) streaks that long within the last 10 seasons: Blake Griffin did it in 14 straight games earlier this season and Kevin Garnett had an 11-game streak for Minnesota in 2002-03.
3. LeBron James – Miami HEAT (26.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7.1 apg):
Be any statistic measure, be they standard or advanced metrics, LeBron is authoring another phenomenal season. Not only is he the only player averaging over seven assists and seven rebounds, he is also second in the NBA in scoring. Moreover, he leads the entire league in adjusted plus/minus (per basketballvalue.com) and also leads the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating (PER). Nonetheless, as has been discussed in this space since November, playing alongside D-Wade and Chris Bosh, in addition to other factors, will very likely prevent him from cracking the top-2 in MVP voting come April. Another factor working against LBJ is the HEAT’s propensity for losing close games and blowing big leads this season. Miami has won only five of 17 games decided by five or fewer points this season, tying them with 76ers (also 5-12), ahead of only Minnesota (4-12). Miami is also only the 3rd NBA team in the last decade to lose two home games in which they led by 20+points in one season…
4. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks (22.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.5 apg):
The Mavericks stormed out of the gates and were one of the NBA’s hottest teams at the start of the 2010-2011 season, and are now playing arguably as well as any team in the league once again – as evidenced by their current seven-game winning streak (top active streak in the NBA). The only time the Mavs struggled for an extended stretch this season just happened to coincide with the three weeks their captain, Dirk Nowitzki, was sidelined by a sprained right knee. Just a coincidence? Highly unlikely… Now that Dirk looks to be inching closer to 100% health, his MVP talents are once again on full display. Dirk is scoring at an impressive clip this season, which is certainly expected. However, his remarkable efficiency is what has really raised eyebrows this season. Over his last 15 games, Dirk is shooting a sparkling 55% from the field. Coming into this year, Nowitzki had never shot over 50.2% in a season during his storied career.
5. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers (25.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.9 apg):
After losing three straight and stumbling badly in the week leading up to the All-Star break, many pundits were claiming that the Lakers might finally be running out of gas, and were no longer the team to beat in the West. Well, apparently the reports of the Lakers demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Following a dominant performance at the All-Star game which netted him the game’s MVP award, Kobe proclaimed loudly that he and his Lakers were going to approach the season’s second-half with a renewed focus. Thus far, they are a perfect 5-for-5, winning all five times they have played since coming out of the break. With a determined Kobe Bean Bryant zeroed in, we should be anything but surprised.
In the Race:
Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder (28.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.8 apg):
Despite once again leading the NBA in scoring, Durant has not quite lived up to the outlandish expectations thrust upon him at the start of the season. Nonetheless, Durant, with plenty of assistance from his talented teammates, especially his PG, has positioned the Thunder near the top of the Western Conference and first place in the Northwest Division.
Dwyane Wade – Miami HEAT (25.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.4 apg):
D-Wade often takes a baskseat to LeBron in any MVP debate, which will happen when your teammate is arguably the most talented player on the planet.
Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder (22.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 8.4 apg):
Were he playing in a major market, or on a team without another superstar like Durant, Westbrook would likely be receive far more national recognition from NBA fans and media alike. He is truly one of the league’s unique talents.
Chris Paul – New Orleans Hornets (16.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 9.8 apg):
Maybe it’s the nagging knee injury, or maybe it’s simply a slump – but CP3 is currently not playing like the CP3 we have grown accustomed to. Over his last three games, Paul is playing 38 minutes a night, but averaging just 5.7 ppg and shooting just 24.1% from the floor. The Hornets lost all three games. For the first time all season, CP3 recently slipped from the #1 overall PER ranking spot…
Amar’e Stoudemire – New York Knicks (25.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.7 apg):
The arrival of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups in New York effectively ended any shot Stoudemire had at serious MVP consideration. That much star power on one team, as we have discussed with the Miami and OKC’s candidates, dilutes the votes any one player might receive. However, you know that Amar’e isn’t complaining..
Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs (18.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.0 apg):
With by far and away the NBA’s best record, it is only fair that at least one member of the Spurs gets some MVP-love. We’ll go with Manu, who is enjoying one of the best all-around seasons of his career.
Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics (11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 12.2 apg):
Ditto for the C’s. It seems every night the Celtics have a different MVP, but Rondo’s consistent impact at both ends of the floor is undeniably important.
Honorable Mention: Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Horford, Paul Pierce, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol
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