NBA MVP Watch: December 20th
Welcome to week eight of HOOPSWORLD’s weekly MVP watch. With the first quarter of the season in the books, players are starting to get into midseason form and teams are solidifying their places in their respected conferences. This week’s list features four familiar names and one player who is making his first appearance in the top five.
David Lee is having a breakout year for the Golden State Warriors and is solidifying himself as one of the best big men in the game. He and the Warriors have been one of the NBA’s most surprising teams after their 17-8 start. Regardless of Lee’s phenomenal start, I’d be surprised if he ever cracks the top three this season.
Without further ado, here is our breakdown of the 2012-13 NBA MVP race after seven weeks of basketball.
#5 – Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
29.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.2 blocks
Love him or hate him, Kobe Bryant is the main reason that the Lakers have won 12 games this season. Dwight Howard is starting to resemble his former self, but Bryant remains the only consistent positive that the Lakers have had all season. Kobe is currently on a seven-game streak of scoring 30 or more points. Bryant leads his team, and the league, in scoring with 29.5 points per game. He is one of only eight players who lead their team in both points and assists this season. Kobe is also fourth in steals among shooting guards. Regardless of Kobe’s accolades, the Lakers remain under .500 and in 12th place in the Western Conference. It still remains to be seen how much of an impact Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will make when they return from injury, but Bryant needs his star-studded supporting cast to step up if they expect to contend come April.
#4 – David Lee – Golden State Warriors
19.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.2 blocks
David Lee was just named the Western Conference’s Player of the Week, which is the first time he’s received the honor in his seven-year career. The Warriors are 8-2 in December and Lee is one of the key reasons that the team has been so successful this month. Lee is averaging 22.2 points and 12.7 rebounds in their last ten games. He’s also had nine straight games of at least 20 points and nine rebounds. He is third on the team in assists and second on the team in steals. Lee is fourth in the NBA in rebounding and second among power forwards in assists. The Warriors are currently fifth in the Western Conference and remain one of the most surprising teams in the NBA this season. They’re only 1.5 games behind the Clippers for the best record in the Pacific Division. Surprisingly, the Warriors have had all of this success with Andrew Bogut playing in only four of their games. If they can get Bogut healthy and Lee can continue the tear that he’s on, it would be no surprise that the Warriors would find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.
#3 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
27.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.5 steals
During the Thunder’s 11-game winning streak, Kevin Durant is averaging 28.8 points. Durant has also scored at least 30 points eight times this season. He is third in scoring and third among small forwards in rebounding. The Thunder have the best record in the NBA. But Durant isn’t the only one thriving for the Thunder. Oklahoma City has four players who are averaging at least 14 points per game this season. Despite Durant having career-highs in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounding and assists, Durant’s points are down and he’s behind LeBron James in assists and rebounds. With that said, the Thunder can’t be stopped right now and it is very possible that Durant could pass Carmelo Anthony and James by the end of the season.
#2 – Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
27.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks
If Carmelo Anthony hadn’t injured his left ankle during the Knicks’ 116-107 win over the Lakers, he may have been my MVP after seven weeks. Despite having the oldest team in NBA, New York holds the best record in the Eastern Conference. Now Anthony is obviously not the only reason this team has been successful, but he is first in the NBA in scoring per 48 minutes and second in total scoring. The Knicks are 2-2 without Anthony this season. In those four games, the Knicks are averaging 99 points. When Anthony is in the lineup, the Knicks average 103.7. Before the injury, Carmelo had three-straight games of 30 or more points. Anthony provides the Knicks with a go-to scorer, one who isn’t afraid to take the shot when the game is on the line. But Carmelo needs to get healthy and he must do more than score if he wants to be this year’s MVP.
#1 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
25.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks
LeBron James is having another fabulous season in South Beach. The Miami HEAT hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, despite Dwyane Wade battling injuries all season. James is leading his team in points, rebounds and assists. He is also fourth in the NBA in scoring and first among the top ten in field goal percentage, shooting 53 percent from the field. LeBron is also first in assists among small forwards and second in rebounds at his position. James has also scored at least 20 points in each one of the HEAT’s 22 games this season. But the HEAT have played 14 of their 22 games at home thus far and they’re 15th in points allowed this season, giving up 97.9 points per game. James continues to find ways to improve his game and the HEAT are still working on getting Ray Allen and Wade on the same page. If LeBron continues this pace and the HEAT end up on top of the Eastern Conference, I would expect James to repeat as the MVP of the National Basketball Association.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: 16.0 points, 9.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 steals
Paul George, Indiana Pacers: 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks
Is Carmelo Anthony the MVP thus far? Does David Lee have a chance to be MVP this season? Will Kobe Bryant continue his offensive domination for the rest of the season? Who’s your MVP after seven weeks of NBA basketball? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! Check back next week to see who moved up and who moved down in the race for the 2012-13 MVP.