NBA MVP Watch: January 10th
Welcome to another addition of HOOPSWORLD’s MVP Watch. This week James Harden finds himself back in the top 5 as his team rides a five-game winning streak and sits in sixth place in the Western Conference. We also have a new #1 this week. For the first time this season Chris Paul finds himself in the drivers seat. His play has been absolutely outstanding and it’s time to give credit where credit is due.
Without further ado, here is our breakdown of the 2012-13 NBA MVP race after ten weeks of basketball.
#5 – James Harden – Houston Rockets
26.6 points, 5.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals
Before the Houston Rockets acquired James Harden at the end of October it seemed like they were headed towards becoming one of the bottom feeders in the NBA in 2012-13. Instead Harden has brought a winning culture back to Houston. Harden ranks fourth in scoring and he’s tied at fifth in steals with fellow Rocket Jeremy Lin. Harden also ranks first among shooting guards in assists. While the Rockets are currently riding a five-game winning streak, three of those five wins were against teams with records below .500. Despite the Rockets adding eleven new faces to their roster, they’re currently in sixth place in the Western Conference. While the Rockets have the lowest overall salary in the NBA, Harden’s ability to not only score, but also set his teammates up suggests that this team can finally break their three-year playoff drought.
#4 – Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
29.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals
Carmelo Anthony’s confrontation with Kevin Garnett this week earned him a one-game suspension. That means that the Knicks must play their seventh game this season without Anthony in the lineup on Thursday night. While the Knicks remain 3-3 with Anthony out, his ability to take over games in the fourth quarter leaves this team vulnerable down the stretch. Anthony is second in the NBA in scoring, first in scoring per 48 minutes. While there was some concern whether or not Anthony could continue his hot start when Amar’e returned, it seems is if they are finally finding a way to play together. Anthony is averaging 32 points, 6 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the four games that Amar’e has played in. The Knicks sit in second place in the Eastern Conference and Anthony is a key reason for their success this season.
#3 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks
It’s hard to believe based on how Kevin Durant has played this season that he is the third best player in the NBA. But that is just an indication of how good LeBron James and Chris Paul have been. At 26-8 the Thunder have the second best record in the NBA. Kevin Durant is third in points per game and Durant has career highs in assists and steals. Durant is also shooting 51% from the field, 41% from three-point and 90% from the free throw line. What hurts Durant’s MVP chances is the fact that he plays with Russell Westbrook. Nobody in the top 5 has another player on their roster who is having the type of season that Westbrook is having. But that’s not to say that Durant isn’t having a career season. It just might not be enough to move him past LeBron James or Chris Paul this season.
#2 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
26.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.9 blocks
While the Miami HEAT have been overshadowed by winning streaks from the Clippers and Thunder, LeBron James may be having the best season of his career. Yes, his scoring is down, but James has career highs in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds and turnovers. Despite his points per game being his lowest since his rookie season, he still remains fifth in the NBA in scoring. The HEAT also have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the fourth best record in the NBA. While the HEAT have yet to string together more than six wins in a row, don’t discount the fact that James has once again improved his game from last season. At times LeBron has put this team on his back this season. But that hasn’t been enough for them in losses against teams like the Wizards, Bucks and Pistons. The HEAT will have to bring more energy against the weaker teams if LeBron James wants to repeat as MVP this season.
#1 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
17.0 points, 9.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 steals
The Los Angeles Clippers go into Wednesday night with the best record in the NBA. Chris Paul has continued to dazzle and lead this team to victory. In their last three games Paul is averaging 26.6 points, 9.3 assists, 5 rebounds and only 1.6 turnovers. Paul remains the league leader in steal and is ranked second in assists. He is also leading the league in assists-to-turnover ratio with 4.41. Paul’s numbers may not jump out at you like LeBron’s or Durant’s, but he’s doing the little things that it takes to win basketball games. Chris Paul also doesn’t have a Dwyane Wade or a Russell Westbrook on his team. While the Clippers remain one of the deepest teams in the NBA, nobody on the team is averaging more than 17 points per game. The Clippers have shown no sign of slowing down after their 17-game winning streak was snapped and if this team remains the number one seed in the Western Conference come April, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Paul ended up winning the MVP award.
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs: 19.1 points, 7.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 0.9 steals
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 21.7 points, 8.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 steals
Can Chris Paul beat out Kevin Durant and LeBron James this season? Does James Harden belong in the Top 5? Who’s your MVP after ten 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.