NBA MVP Watch: November 8th
Welcome to HOOPSWORLD’s weekly MVP watch. With week one of the 2012-13 NBA season behind us, we’ve already seen some of those eye-opening performances that remind us why we love the NBA.
James Harden has destroyed the competition in his first three games with the Houston Rockets. Kobe Bryant gave us a 40-point game that resulted in a loss for the Los Angeles Lakers. Tony Parker hit back-to-back game winning jumpers for the undefeated San Antonio Spurs.
It’s obviously early, but here are the players who dominated in week one of the NBA season and emerged as MVP candidates.
#5 – Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
16.8 points, 8.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 0.5 steals
The 4-0 Spurs are quietly doing what they do every year: winning basketball games. Tony Parker has been their go-to guy down the stretch. To open the season, Parker hit game winning jumpers against both the New Orleans Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Parker followed that up by posting a double-double and scoring a team-high 24 points in the Spurs’ win over the Utah Jazz. Parker is third among point guards in assists-to-turnovers and he’s shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. With Manu Ginobili back from injury, Parker’s role will likely diminish. Parker may not remain on this list, but he deserves credit for his performance in week one.
#4- Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
20.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 steals
Despite the Thunder’s 2-2 start, Kevin Durant has been filling up the stat sheet, focusing on other aspects of his game besides scoring. Durant is leading the league in defensive rebounds per game, with 11. He is currently tied for fourth in total rebounds, in front of DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard. Durant’s three-point attempts are down, while his assists are up from last season. Instead of forcing up jumpers, he’s been driving and kicking out to Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden’s replacement Kevin Martin. Although Durant is only averaging 20.8 points, this number will increase as the season progresses. Expect Durant to move up this list in the coming weeks.
#3- LeBron James – Miami HEAT
23.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.3 blocks
When it comes to LeBron James, we often expect more from him than anyone else in the league. Although James’ points per game, assists and steals are all down from last season, the HEAT are 3-1 this year and James’s numbers are impressive. Also, James’ field goal and three-point percentages are the highest they’ve been in his career. Barring any major injuries, James should slide up the list in the weeks to come. You know he’s won three of these things in the last four years, right?
#2- Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
26.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals
Moving Carmelo Anthony to power forward while Amar’e Stoudemire recovers from injury has proven to exploit Knick opponents. While Anthony’s taking more shot attempts, his field goal percentage is up from last season. He’s also limited his turnovers to only 1.7 per game. What’s most impressive about the Knicks’ 3-0 start is that they’re leading the league in opponent’s points per game, with 85.3. Even Anthony has picked up his intensity on defense. He’s averaging five defensive rebounds and a blocked shot a game. We know that Anthony can score, what needs to be seen is whether or not Anthony can coexist with Stoudemire when he returns. For now, Anthony is doing what he does best and the Knicks are undefeated.
#1- James Harden – Houston Rockets
35.3 points, 6.3 assists, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals
Fear-the-beard fever is in full effect in Houston. James Harden exploded for 37 and 45 points in the Rockets’ first two games this season, both victories. Harden eventually cooled off in Houston’s first loss on Saturday, only scoring 24 points, but he still managed to grab six rebounds and dish out six assists. Prior to the trade with Oklahoma City, many were predicting the Rockets to finish dead last in the Western Conference. With Harden and Jeremy Lin coexisting, the sky’s the limit for this team. I still question whether or not Harden can continue on this pace for the entire season, but for now he’s looking like the most valuable player in the NBA.
Honorable Mentions –
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks: 17.0 points, 13.0 assists, 4.0 steals, 3.0 rebounds
Glen Davis, Orlando Magic: 22.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists
Check back each week to see who moved up and who moved down in the race for the 2012-13 MVP.
Who is your MVP after week one? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!