NBA MVP Watch: January 3rd
Welcome to HOOPSWORLD’s first MVP watch of 2013. It remains a tight race for the NBA Most Valuable Player. What remains certain is the fact that there is a myriad of legitimate MVP candidates this season. This week LeBron James and Kevin Durant have changed places and Chris Paul has moved up the list, despite the Clippers ending their losing streak. Tony Parker has also found himself in the top five this week.
Here’s our breakdown of the 2012-13 NBA MVP race, after nine weeks of NBA basketball.
#5 – Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
19.3 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 0.8 steals
Tony Parker is the most consistent player on one of the best teams in the NBA. The Spurs are currently third in the Western Conference standings. Parker is entering the pinnacle of his career and his play this year is proving that he is a premier point guard in the NBA. Simply, Tony makes it into this week’s top five for two particular reasons. Firstly, the Spurs have won six straight wins and prove to be a dominant force in the West. Secondly, as the teams floor general, Tony is leading the title-contending Spurs in points, assists, and steals. Parker is also tenth in the NBA in scoring and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio, with 3.37.
#4 – Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
29.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals
Carmelo Anthony is leading the Knicks in five statistical categories. But only two of these categories (three-point percentage and points per game) actually prove that he is worthy of this week’s number four spot. Nonetheless, ‘Melo is here not necessarily because of his numbers, but because of how flawlessly he fulfills his role as the Knick’s go-to guy. Unlike the previous seasons with Denver and last season with the Knicks, Anthony is delivering in key moments this year. The fact that Melo can fluidly put the ball in the basket has always been quite salient, what he continues to struggle with, is his ability to lead a team for 48 minutes. However, this year Melo is shown up in big games and has proven to be one of the keys to the Knick’s success this season. Anthony is second in the NBA in scoring and first in the NBA in scoring per 48 minutes. Now that Amare has returned, the test will be whether or not Carmelo can continue to act as the leader of the Knicks while sharing touches with another star.
#3 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
16.1 points, 9.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 2.7 steals
The Clippers 17-game winning streak ended abruptly in their 14-point loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. But if you can take one thing away from the Clippers franchise-record winning streak, it’s that Chris Paul is the perfect point guard for what the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to establish—a winning franchise that is consistent. Paul is the leader of the Clippers or now what the nation sees as a Western Conference juggernaut and more importantly, the best team in LA. What is visible is the fact that Paul is the backbone to the Clippers. Although his numbers are not staggering, he remains unswerving, with an assist-to-turnover ratio that ranks second in the NBA at 4.32. Chris Paul is also leading the league in steals with 2.7 per game.
#2 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
26.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks
This year the HEAT have been enduring what seems like endless strife, especially because their Robin (Dwayne Wade) has been not only been receiving scrutiny from the media, but has been struggling to perform at the level that he was once so easily capable of doing. Nevertheless, in spite of the team’s inconsistency, LeBron James has remained a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. As the sole leader of the HEAT, LeBron has scored twenty points or more every game this season and his 26.3 points per game rank him fourth in the NBA. Additionally, LeBron ranks first in field goal percentage among the leagues top ten scorers. LeBron is ranked in the number two spot because the HEAT have been defeated by the Pistons and Bucks this week, where as the Thunder are currently coasting on a three game winning streak.
#1 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
28.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks
Kevin Durant is the best player on the best team in the NBA. The Thunder are nothing less then dominant, with the best record in the NBA at 24-6. Durant & Co. are on a three-game winning streak and Durant has consistently ranked in the top five in scoring all season. Though Durant’s scoring numbers are not as impressive as they have been in the past, he is having a career year. Durant is averaging career bests in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, free-throw percentage, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Thus, Durant’s prominence in the league is swiftly rising this year because his “all-around basketball skills” have drastically improved over the last year. Like LeBron, Durant needs to overcome a metaphorical hump in order to be deemed wholeheartedly as the best player in the NBA. His improvements this year are there, but he is going to need to continue to produce at this level in order to be this season’s most valuable player.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 21.5 points, 8.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 steals
David Lee, Golden State Warriors: 20.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals
Can Kevin Durant surpass LeBron James this season? Will Carmelo Anthony find his way back into the top 3? Who’s your MVP after nine 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.