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 (24.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 7.8 apg):
The current national MVP debate usually comes down to two players: Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard. These two have effectively separated themselves from the pack. Personally, D Rose gets the nod for all the reasons we have discussed in this space all year long. Derrick has been the driving force catapulting the Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference, as they now have currently claimed the top record in the East. And if D Rose takes home the hardware this season, it will be historical in many respects. Here are a few interesting facts (courtesy of @NBAHistory): If Rose, who is just 22 years of age, wins the NBA MVP this season he will supplant Wes Unseld as the youngest MVP in NBA history, and he will also be the first player to win the award in his third season since Moses (’78-79). (Michael Jordan won his first MVP after his fourth NBA season).
2. Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic (23.1 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 2.4 bpg):
Should Howard claim the trophy next month, he would certainly be a worthy recipient. Dwight has been a beast all season long, and is playing arguably his best basketball of late. The Magic have won four straight games and over those four contests Howard is averaging 27 points per game, 17.3 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 3.8 blocks, and 2.8 assists while shooting a mind-boggling 72.3% from the floor. Oh, and Howard also made 11 of 13 free throws on Wednesday after making 10 of 12 on Monday. Per Elias, it’s the first time in his NBA career that Howard has taken at least 10 free throws while making at least 80 percent in consecutive games. If Superman starts making his free-throws on a consistent basis, there is simply no guarding the guy.
3. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks (23.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.6 apg):
Dirk was at it again on Thursday night, pouring in 30 points and grabbing 11 boards in a victory over the Timberwolves. The win gave the Mavericks yet another 50-win season. Amazingly, that is the Mavericks 11th consecutive 50-win campaign, thanks in large part to their captain. Dirk frequently flies under the radar due to his conservative game, which lacks the flash and excitement of studs like D-Rose, Howard, or LeBron, but Dirk has been so incredibly consistent throughout his Dallas career, up to and including this current season. Just how efficient has Dirk recently? In the month of March, through 12 games, Dirk is shooting 54.6% from the floor and 97.4% from the free-throw stripe! All while averaging 25.7 points, 7.8 boards and 2.7 dimes (versus just 1.5 turnovers).
4. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers (24.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.8 apg):
Kobe and the Lakers have re-established themselves an NBA’s elite since the All-Star break. And Kobe, the All-Game MVP, is obviously a major reason why. The Lakers are one of the NBA’s hottest teams, winners of five straight and seven in a row at home, and now possess the league’s second-best record, joining the Spurs and Bulls as the only three squads in the NBA with 51+ wins.
5. LeBron James – Miami HEAT (26.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 6.9 apg):
LeBron isn’t any less skilled, or playing any less proficiently than he did during his two-year stint as the reigning back-to-back MVP, but his circumstances have certainly changed. Flanked by another superstar in D Wade, and with Chris Bosh on the squad as well, LeBron’s MVP credentials aren’t quite the same when contrasted with the load he shouldered in Cleveland. Then also consider the fact the HEAT won’t win as many games as the Cavs did and it would be shocking to LeBron get more than a few first-place votes.
In the Race:
Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder (27.9 ppg, 7.0 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.
Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder (22.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 8.3 apg):
If Westbrook wasn’t having such a phenomenal season, Durant would likely be higher in the rankings. The fact Westbrook has been so good makes it difficult to heap too much of the credit for the Thunder’s winning ways on Durant.
Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs (18.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.0 apg):
The Spurs, despite possessing the best record in the entire league, don’t have a true MVP. Timmy D (who will some time with a bum ankle) and Tony Parker are both obviously vital to San Antonio’s success, but Manu has been arguably the Spurs best and most consistent player during the 2010-2011 season.
Dwyane Wade – Miami HEAT (25.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.4 apg):
Like LeBron, Wade was fully aware he was likely sacrificing any shot he had at a regular season MVP when the Super Friends were formed.
Chris Paul – New Orleans Hornets (16.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 9.8 apg):
With the devastating news that star power forward David West has a torn left ACL and will miss the rest of the season, CP3 will have to play like a true MVP just to keep New Orleans afloat in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. If the Hornets are able to qualify for the postseason, Paul will have carried them their on his back.
Honorable Mention: Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Horford, Paul Pierce, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, Amar’e Stoudemire