NBA MVP Watch: March 21st
Whether you’re talking about Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul or any of the other All-Stars in this league, there have been some truly special moments in the NBA this season. But the one guy who has gone above and beyond every single night is LeBron James.
Even if the HEAT’s 24-game winning streak ends soon, James will still win the MVP award by a significant margin this season. We’re talking about a guy who scored at least 20 points in his team’s first 33 games and set an NBA record of six consecutive games where he scored at least 30 points and shot at least 60 percent from the field. The HEAT also have the best record in the NBA at 53-14.
For the sake of argument, let’s take a look at James’ competition for the 2012-13 NBA MVP:
#5 – Dwyane Wade – Miami HEAT
21.7 points, 5.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals
While Kobe Bryant will most likely finish ahead of Dwyane Wade in MVP votes this season, the HEAT’s 24-game winning streak has just about as much to do with Wade’s success these last couple months as it does with the play of LeBron James.
In March alone, Wade has is averaging 55 percent from the field and less than three turnovers a game. On top of that, he’s also averaging 22.5 points and more than six steals a game.
Many thought that Wade’s play early in the season suggested that he was either battling injury or had somehow lost a step or two. It’s clear based on his play this year that Wade is not only proving those critics wrong, but he’s also improving his game in certain areas.
#4 – Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
17.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 blocks
For much of this season, my MVP for the San Antonio Spurs has been Tony Parker. Now that Parker has been out for the Spurs’ last eight games, I’m starting to realize that it is in fact Tim Duncan who is this team’s most valuable piece. In those eight games that Parker has missed, the Spurs are 6-2 and Duncan is averaging 16.25 points and 10 rebounds.
This season, Duncan is averaging his best scoring numbers since the 2009-10 season. He’s also leading the Spurs in rebounds and blocks.
At 36 years old, you really have to admire the way that Duncan continues to play the game the right way for the Spurs. It’s difficult to imagine where this team would be without him.
#3 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
16.5 points, 9.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals
It’s hard to believe that Chris Paul hasn’t gotten more credit for yet another successful season. His team sits tied for third place in the Western Conference and Paul leads the league in assists per turnover, steals per game and assists per 48 minutes. He’s also second in the NBA in assists per game and 11th among point guards in scoring.
In March, Paul has been extra careful with the ball, only averaging 2.1 turnovers a game. He’s also averaging a double-double in his team’s nine games. Despite their 5-4 record, Paul is also having his second-best scoring month of the 2012-13 season.
Paul has once again shown that he is not only one of the league’s best passers, he can also become the Clippers’ go-to scorer when they need him to be. He’s every thing you want in a point guard, under control and unselfish. Paul will surely receive recognition for his tremendous season when all is said and done.
#2 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
28.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks
In the month of March, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 8-4. Still, turnovers have been a problem for Durant as of late. He’s averaging nearly five a game in March. Durant’s shooting percentage has also been an issue. He’s shooting under 50 percent for the second consecutive month.
As long as Durant continues to average at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line, he will receive at least some of the MVP votes at the end of the season. However, despite the success that Durant has had in 2012-13, LeBron James has just been too good. Once again Durant will finish behind James, but at least Durant may add another scoring title to his list of accolades.
#1 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.7 steals
In the HEAT’s last five games, LeBron James has scored at least 20 points. To go along with those numbers, James is also averaging 9.6 rebounds and 9 assists in those HEAT wins. More impressively, as a team, James and the HEAT have won back-t0-back games in which they were down by at least 17 points at some point in the game.
James has been the facilitator when he needs to be, but late in games, when the HEAT need him to be the attacker, James has been able to flip on the switch and carry the team offensively.
Statistically, James is only averaging career highs in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and rebounds, but he has continued to find ways to improve his game after winning the MVP award and championship last season. Even with his points down from where they were last season, this campaign could go down as James’ best of his career.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: 27.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals
James Harden, Houston Rockets: 26.3 points, 5.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals
Is LeBron James having the best season of his career? Can Tim Duncan finish in the top five this season? Will Kobe Bryant’s injury impact his MVP chances? Who’s your pick for MVP after 20 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.
It’s March Madness so be sure to check out HOOPSWORLD’s coverage at our 2013 NCAA Tournament Headquarters.