NBA MVP Watch: February 28th
With just about one third of the 2012-13 NBA season left, we’re getting into crunch time in the MVP watch. While it would take marvelous performances from Kevin Durant or Tony Parker to take the MVP away from LeBron James in the last 20+ games, stranger things have happened in the NBA.
LeBron James and the Miami HEAT are currently on a 12-game winning streak and are 12-1 in the month of February. Although James’ streak of six consecutive games of 30 or more points on 60 percent shooting or better came to an end awhile back, he has continued to excel and it seems like no one can stop him offensively. James is shooting a career best 56 percent from the field. He has also scored 20 or more points in all but two of his games this season. Could this be his best season ever?
But enough about LeBron for now, here are the top five MVP candidates for week 17 of the NBA season:
#5 – Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
27.1 points, 5.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals
For only the fifth time this season, Kobe Bryant has found his way into the top five of our weekly watch. Kobe has put up solid numbers all season, but it hasn’t been enough for the Lakers. We’re starting to see the team that many assumed would come out on top in the Western Conference. While they’re still three games out of the eighth seed in the West, the Lakers are 8-4 in the month of February. In those 12 games, Kobe is averaging 23.2 points, 6.8 assists and 6.8 rebounds. Bryant may not be having a career year, but he is averaging more assists per game than he has in eight seasons. He is also shooting a career best 47 percent from the field. It still remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers can squeeze into the playoffs, but with the way that Bryant has been playing this season it’s hard to put the blame on him. At 34 years old, he clearly has some game left in him.
#4 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
16.0 points, 9.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals
Fresh off of his All-Star Game MVP, Chris Paul and the Clippers continue to prove that they’re for real. This season, Paul has 20 double-doubles. While Paul’s points per game are down from last season, he is averaging more assists and has a better assist-to-turnover ratio this year. He also ranks first in steals per game. Paul and the Clippers have the fourth-best record in the NBA. Paul provides his team with leadership and the ability to knock down the game winning shot if need be. It remains to be seen whether or not this team’s run-and-gun style will translate in the playoffs, but Paul is once again solidifying himself as one of the premier point guards in the NBA.
#3 – Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
21.1 points, 7.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 0.9 steals
Once again, the San Antonio Spurs prove to be a team in every sense of the word. While every member of the team contributes on a nightly basis, Tony Parker has been the clear leader all season. Parker leads the team in scoring and assists and he’s played in all but four games this season. He is 10th in the NBA in points per game, seventh in assists per game and seventh in assists-to-turnover ratio. In February, Parker is averaging 26.6 points, 8.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds. Although Parker has been the best player on the best team in the league, the Spurs are 3-1 in games that Parker didn’t play this season. That could potentially hurt him when the MVP voters make their choice. The Spurs continue to be the most overlooked team in the NBA, but if they finish the season with the best record in the NBA, expect some MVP votes for Parker.
#2 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
28.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks
In any other season, it would be Kevin Durant running away with the MVP trophy. Durant leads the league in points per game, free-throw percentage and total points scored. Durant is also averaging 51 percent from the field, 42 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line. Career-wise, Durant is also having one of his better seasons. His points, assists and steals are all career-highs. What has hurt Durant, besides LeBron James’ play, is the fact that Russell Westbrook is also having an MVP-type season in his own right. Regardless, Durant and the Thunder have the third-best record in the NBA and they seem to be one of the few teams that could potentially steal the NBA title from the HEAT.
#1 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
27.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals
Besides being first in field goals made, third in points per game, 10th in assists and 11th in steals, James is also second in triple-doubles and has scored at least 30 points on 22 different occasions this season. James also had a career-high 16 assists in Tuesday’s win over the Sacramento Kings. During the HEAT’s 12-game winning streak, LeBron is averaging 29.8 points, 8.2 assists and 7.5 assists. It should also be mentioned that Dwyane Wade is having a phenomenal season. James has been the catalyst for this team, but Wade is right behind him. This team seems more than ready to defend their championship and James is likely to earn his fourth MVP in just 10 seasons. For more on LeBron’s extraordinary season, check out Alex Kennedy’s article from yesterday here.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: 28.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists
James Harden, Houston Rockets: 26.4 points, 5.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals
Can Kevin Durant or Tony Parker catch LeBron James this season? Will Carmelo Anthony find his way back into the top five? Is Kobe Bryant making a case for the MVP award? Who’s your MVP after 17 weeks? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! Check back next week to see who moved up and down in the race for the 2012-13 NBA MVP.