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NBA MVP Watch: March 28th
Posted By Richard Hardy On March 28, 2013 @ 5:00 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Welcome to another edition of HOOPSWORLD’s MVP watch. With less than a month to go in the NBA season, we’re starting to get a pretty good idea of where guys are going to finish in the MVP race. Though it seems like it’s LeBron James’ trophy to lose, the rest of the field still has a few more games to make their cases.
One of those guys who could improve his position is James Harden. Harden, who looked like the clear cut MVP after the first two weeks of the season, is having a breakout campaign and will ultimately finish somewhere in the top 10 this season. He has established himself as one of the league’s premier scorers and is no longer living in the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Here is how the MVP rankings look after 21 weeks of basketball:
#5 – James Harden – Houston Rockets
26.3 points, 5.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals
Harden currently ranks fifth in the NBA in points per game, fifth in steals per game and 20th in assists per game. He also leads his team in points and steals.
Before Harden was dealt, the Rockets looked like a team that was headed for another lottery season. Instead, Harden has emerged as Houston’s go-to scorer and propelled them into the playoff picture. If the playoffs started today, the Rockets would be matched up against Harden’s former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. It could be an epic opening round series that wouldn’t have been possible without Harden’s stellar play.
#4 – Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs
17.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 blocks
Tim Duncan has been solid all season for the San Antonio Spurs, but he’s playing some of his best basketball in March. The Spurs are 9-3 this month and Duncan has eight double-doubles in those 12 games.
Statistically, Duncan is having his best season since 2009-10. He’s averaging more points, rebounds, assists and steals than he had last season. Duncan ranks fourth in the NBA in blocks, 14th in double-doubles and 20th in total rebounds.
If the season ended today, the Spurs would have the second-best record in the NBA. It would be hard for the MVP voters to not include either Duncan or Tony Parker in the top five considering what that team has done all season. The voters could also take into account the fact that Duncan is 36 and having a better season than he did when he was 35. It will also help Duncan’s case that he’s getting better as the season comes to an end.
#3 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
17.1 points, 9.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals
With the fourth-best record in the NBA, the Los Angeles Clippers have continued to prove that they’re a force to be reckoned with, despite some struggles throughout the season. Chris Paul remains the key component to this Clippers team. Without him, it’s hard to imagine where this team would be. Paul leads the league in steals per game and has once again established himself as one of the league’s best defenders.
In March alone, Paul has six games of 20 or more points and five double-doubles. But Paul has struggled with turnovers this month. Despite being second in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.16), Paul has turned the ball over an average of 2.8 times this month. That is his worst month of the season thus far.
It would be surprising if Paul finished higher than third in MVP votes. Still, he should receive some votes for all that he’s done for the Clippers this season.
#2 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
28.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks
The Oklahoma City Thunder are just 3-2 in their last five games. In those five games, Kevin Durant has scored at least 20 points and grabbed at least six rebounds. Despite their struggles as of late, the Thunder are 11-4 in March and sit in second place in the Western Conference.
Durant leads the NBA in points per game and has scored 30 or more points 29 times this season. He’s still shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. Durant continues to be one of the league’s most prolific scorers.
This could be one of the best seasons of his career. He’s shooting a career-high from the field and the free throw line. He’s also averaging career-highs in assists, blocks and steals. But Durant is once again stuck in LeBron James’ shadow.
#1 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.7 steals
The Miami HEAT’s winning streak may have ended at 27 games last night, but let’s not forget how special LeBron James’ was during this stretch. It was a streak that we may never see again.
During the streak, James had two triple-doubles and 15 double-doubles. He also scored 30 points or more in 10 of the 27 games and shot at least 60 percent from the field 10 times. The streak also catapulted the HEAT into first place in the NBA.
This season, James is shooting a career high 55 percent from the field. He’s fourth in the NBA in points per game, eighth in assists per game, 23rd in rebounds per game and 10th in steals per game. James has once again established himself as the league’s best player and continues to show improvement, even after playing in his 10th season.
Dwyane Wade, Miami HEAT: 21.5 points, 5.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: 27.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals
Has LeBron James locked up the MVP award? Will Carmelo Anthony play his way back into contention? Can James Harden finish in the top five this season? Who’s your pick for MVP after 21 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.
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