NBA MVP Watch: January 17th
Week 11 of the NBA season is in the books and that means it’s time for another edition of HOOPSWORLD’s MVP watch. This week Kevin Durant regained the top spot from last week’s number one Chris Paul. Durant and the Thunder have established themselves as the best team in the NBA and it seems like this may be the year that Durant gets his MVP award. That’s not to say that LeBron James and Chris Paul aren’t making it interesting. All three guys are having career years and it’s going to be a dogfight till the end of the season.
Here are the top five candidates for the 2012-13 NBA MVP award:
#5 – Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
19.5 points, 7.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals
The San Antonio Spurs never get any love. At 29-11 the Spurs have the third best record in the NBA. While Tim Duncan is having an All-Star year at 36 years old, Tony Parker is the team’s anchor. Tony Parker is eighth in wins contributed by a player, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Parker also leads the Spurs in points and assists. Tony Parker also has career highs in free-throw percentage and three-point percentage. But it’s not just his numbers that make him an MVP candidate. Parker is the vocal leader of this Spurs team and he’s never afraid to take the last shot of the game. It’s unlikely that Parker will get very many votes this season, but as his team continues to have another successful season, it should be noted that Tony Parker is a big reason that the Spurs find themselves as one of the top five teams season after season. At 30 Parker isn’t getting any younger, but he’s vital to the Spurs system and isn’t someone that they will easily replace when the time comes.
#4 – Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
29.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals
It seems that the Carmelo Anthony of old is starting to show his face again in New York. While Anthony remains second in the NBA in scoring, the Knicks are 3-4 in January. In those seven games Anthony is averaging 26.0 shots per game. That’s more shots than Kobe Bryant. Carmelo also hasn’t had a double-double since November 26th. The Knicks still hold the second best record in the Eastern Conference, but they’re only a couple games up on the Nets and Pacers. Many thought that Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony couldn’t coexist. At this point it’s starting to seem like one of them needs to leave the Big Apple. While Anthony still has time to catch up to LeBron, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, he’s going to need to do more than score 40 points for his name to be considered for the MVP award. He needs to be the leader that the Knicks desperately need. If not, it will be just another disappointing season for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.
#3 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
26.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks
Going into Wednesday nights game against the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James is 18 points and two assists away from joining the 20,000 point and 5,000 assist club. He would be the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points. It goes without saying that James is the best player in the league. But the HEAT have struggled recently, but most of the blame can be pointed at HEAT players not wearing number 6. The HEAT have lost three of their last five games. It was in last Thursday’s loss against the Portland Trail Blazers that James had his first game of the season where he didn’t score at least 20 points. At 24-12 the HEAT still have the best record in the Eastern Conference and James is having one of the best seasons of his career. LeBron has career highs in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds and turnovers this season. He is also fifth in the NBA in scoring and ninth in the NBA in field goal percentage. This may not be the dominate HEAT team that we saw last season, but come playoff time this team will be eager to defend their NBA title. While James is having another phenomenal year, it will take more support from Wade and the rest of the HEAT if James is going to hold up the MVP trophy this season.
#2 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
16.8 points, 9.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 steals
Yes, Chris Paul is still leading the league in steals and is still second in the NBA in assists per game. The Los Angeles Clippers also have the second best record in the NBA at 30-9. But while Chris Paul has been battling a knee injury, the Clippers are continuing to steamroll teams. Paul has missed the last two games and in those two games the Clippers have beaten their opponents by an average of 22 points. While i’m not going to try and convince you that the Los Angeles Clippers are a better team without Chris Paul, it’s pretty clear at this point that the Clippers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. What Paul brings to this team is a leader who can handle the ball without turning it over. Chris Paul is second in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio and in his last five games he’s averaging only two turnovers a game. Paul can also score, but he chooses his shots wisely. Paul is shooting almost 50% from the field and he only averages 12 shots a game. If Chris Paul wants to impress voters this season he’s going to have continue to play like he did before the knee injury. It wouldn’t hurt if the Clippers could pass the Thunder for the best record in the NBA. Even if Paul doesn’t win the MVP award this season, Paul has had one of the best seasons of his career and he is one of the main reasons why the Clippers are the best team in L.A. this season.
#1 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
28.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks
Last week I unfairly criticized Kevin Durant for having too much help in Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook is having an amazing season and he’s beginning to establish himself as a superstar in this league. But Durant’s season cannot be overlooked. Durant is averaging 30.75 points and 6.25 rebounds in the month of January. He’s third in the NBA in scoring, sixth in the NBA in free-throw percentage and fourth among small forwards in assists. Durant also has career highs in field goal percentage, free-throw percentage, assists and steals. The Thunder currently have the best record in the NBA and are currently riding a four-game winning streak. Kevin Durant has continued to improve every season he’s been in the NBA. Although the Thunder lost James Harden, they seem to be ready to make another attempt at winning the NBA championship this season. If the Thunder can hold on to the best record in the NBA by the end of the season, I think Durant could finally surpass LeBron James for the NBA MVP award.
David Lee, Golden State Warriors: 19.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.9 steals
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 22.2 points, 8.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 steals
Is this the year Kevin Durant wins his first MVP award? Will the HEAT’s struggles prevent LeBron James from winning his third MVP? Does Tony Parker have a chance to win the MVP award this season? Who’s your MVP after eleven 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 2012-2013 NBA MVP.