NBA MVP Watch: November 15th
Welcome to week two of HOOPSWORLD’s weekly MVP watch. Teams are starting to work out their kinks, and things are beginning to take shape in the NBA. The superstars are beginning to emerge and unsuspecting hot hands are beginning to cool off. This week we’ve got two new players in the top five and a new number one.
Here’s our breakdown of the 2012-13 NBA MVP race, after two weeks of basketball.
#5 – Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
26.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals
It’s been a wild week in Tinseltown. With Mike Brown gone, the Lakers can now concentrate on something that they’ve failed to do a lot of this season: winning basketball games. Despite the record, Bryant has been the one bright spot for the Lakers. He is less than a point behind Anthony in points per game and since Steve Nash went down with injury, Bryant has increased his assists per game. In his last five games, he has recorded at least four assists and four rebounds, to go along with at least 15 points. Now that Mike D’Antoni is taking over the reins as head coach, expect for Bryant’s offensive numbers to go up, but that doesn’t guarantee that the Lakers will increase their win total.
#4 – Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs
18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 2.5 assists
Despite Manu Ginobili’s injury concerns and Tony Parker battling the flu this week, the Spurs have only lost one game this season. The Spurs’ 36-year-old big man Tim Duncan is leading the team in scoring and rebounding. He is fourth in the NBA in blocks and fourth among big man in points per game. Duncan is also shooting 75 percent from the free throw line, his highest percentage since the 2001-02 season. Despite this being Duncan’s 16th season in the NBA, his numbers are up from last year in all of the major categories. What remains to be seen is if Duncan can keep this new found youth up over 82 games.
#3 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
23.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals
During the Thunder’s five-game winning streak, Kevin Durant is averaging 23.2 points. Although he is leading the team in scoring, Durant is sitting at sixth in scoring in the NBA. He is going to need to increase his points per game if he is going to win the scoring title for the fourth consecutive season. Surprisingly, Durant is leading the team in rebounding, almost matching the combined rebounds per game of Thunder big men Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Durant is averaging career highs in rebounds, assists and blocks. But if Durant is going to pass LeBron James in MVP votes, the Thunder are going to need to continue to win and Durant is going to need to improve his scoring.
#2 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
23.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 0.8 blocks
On Monday night, LeBron James put Miami on his back and carried them to a win over the streaking Houston Rockets. LeBron had 32 points in the second half, including a huge three pointer with 1:50 left and a layup that clinched the win for the HEAT. James finished with 38 points, the first time he has reached 30 points this season. But James has been filling up the stat sheet, averaging more than seven assists per game in his last four games. James also has a streak of six consecutive double-doubles going into Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. At this point, James seems to be finding his rhythm and if his team continues to win games, he could find himself moving up the rankings once again in week three.
#1 – Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
26.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 blocks
In week two, Carmelo Anthony passed James Harden atop the list of NBA scoring leaders. His field goal percentage is also up despite taking more shots per game than last season. But Anthony isn’t just doing it on the offensive end. He is also leading the 5-0 Knicks in rebounding and blocks. Anthony is also showing leadership, something that we have yet to see from him in his first nine seasons. While the Knicks are undefeated, they will soon face their toughest challenge of the young season when they head to San Antonio on Thursday to face the Spurs, followed by a trip to Memphis the following night.
Honorable Mentions –
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: 15.4 points, 12.9 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals
Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies: 16.2 points, 14.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 blocks
Does Carmelo Anthony deserve to be number one? Will James Harden eventually return to the top five? Who’s your MVP after two 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.