NBA MVP Watch: February 7th
Welcome to another edition of HOOPSWORLD’s MVP watch. This week the top five remains similar to where it was last week. One player who finds himself in the honorable mentions this week is Kobe Bryant. It has been sometime since we’ve seen Bryant make it into the top 5. The Lakers sit in tenth place in the Western Conference, but Kobe continues to prove to NBA fans that he still has plenty of fight left and he isn’t ready to give up on this season. The Lakers have won six of their last seven games and Kobe is averaging only 17.4 points. What stands out is Kobe’s assists and rebounds in those seven games. He is averaging almost ten assists and almost eight rebounds in the Lakers last seven games. If Kobe wants to win the MVP he’s going to need to play at this level for the rest of the season. Regardless, it’s quite impressive for Bryant to be able to become a much more unselfish player over the last week. Could we be seeing a more team-oriented Kobe Bryant?
Without further ado, here is our breakdown of the 2012-13 NBA MVP race after fourteen weeks of basketball.
#5 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
16.6 points, 9.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 steals
Chris Paul has now missed eight straight games with a sore knee. The Clippers are 2-6 in those eight games. Overall, the Clippers are 5-6 in games that Paul doesn’t suit up this season. While it seemed like Eric Bledsoe and the Clippers deep roster could survive without Paul, it’s become clear that his leadership and his ability to get others involved is clearly missing. The Clippers average 100 points per game, but in the 11 games that Paul hasn’t played, the Clippers have scored 100 or more points only three times. The Clippers remain the third best team in the West, but six of their next ten games are away from Staples Center. They also lost Blake Griffin to a hamstring injury. This team is in need of Paul’s leadership and his ability to distribute and knockdown big shots on the court.
#4 - Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
28.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals
The New York Knicks are starting to show glimpses of the impressive team they were earlier in the season. During their five-game winning streak Carmelo Anthony has displayed the all-around game that we all know he’s capable of. Anthony is averaging 24.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists during the winning streak. This is the type of player that could potentially win an MVP. Carmelo is currently second in the NBA in scoring, first in the NBA in scoring per 48 minutes. The Knicks also have the second best record in the Eastern Conference. While it is true that Kevin Durant and LeBron James have better players around them, I don’t believe that adding a Russell Westbrook or a Dwyane Wade would be a positive thing for Anthony. He still needs to show consistency if he wants to contend for the MVP award this season. Until then, Anthony will remain outside of the top 3.
#3 - Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
20.1 points, 7.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 0.9 steals
The San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the NBA and their best player has missed five of their last ten games. They’re also on a ten-game winning streak, their longest of the season. Since Tim Duncan went down, it’s become Tony Parker’s team. He leads the Spurs in scoring and assists. While Parker doesn’t jump out of the gym or shoot the lights out from three-point range, he does everything right on the court and his playmaking ability makes the players around him better. At this point Parker clearly deserves to be in contention for the MVP. Yes, it’s going to be difficult for him to pass Kevin Durant and LeBron James. But if the Spurs continue their dominance, I could see Parker finishing in the top 4 by seasons end.
#2 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
29.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks
It remains a battle between Kevin Durant and LeBron James for the MVP this season. Kevin Durant has greatly improved from where he was last season. Not only is he shooting better than 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three-point line and 90 percent from the free throw line, Durant is also averaging career highs in assists and steals. The Thunder are also the second best team in the NBA. What puts LeBron James ahead of Durant thus far is the fact that Russell Westbrook is establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA. Not to mention the fact that Kevin Martin is having one of the best seasons of his career and Serge Ibaka is in the running for defensive player of the year. Although Durant makes everything possible for this team, it cannot be overlooked how talented the Thunder are. It’s hard for me to see Durant winning the award when he has so much talent around him.
#1 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
26.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.8 blocks
For the second straight week LeBron James finds himself in the top spot. On Monday LeBron shot better than 92 percent from the field for the first time in his career. James is continuing to shoot a career high from the field and from the three-point line. He is also averaging a career high in rebounds and turnovers. The HEAT remain the best team in the Eastern Conference and the fourth best team in the NBA. Statistically James is shooting a higher percentage from the field than Kevin Durant. He is also averaging more rebounds, assists and steals than Durant is. While this race could come down to who has the most overall wins, Durant’s supporting cast heavily outweighs LeBron’s. Kevin Durant is also having a better offensive season than James. But LeBron is still the better overall player and he is more important to his teams overall success than Durant is.
David Lee, Golden State Warriors: 19.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.9 steals
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: 27.6 points, 5.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals
Can Kevin Durant pass LeBron James for the MVP? What will it take for Carmelo Anthony to win the MVP this season? Does Kobe Bryant deserve to be in the top 5? Who’s your MVP after 14 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.