NBA MVP Watch: November 22nd
Welcome to week three of HOOPSWORLD’s weekly MVP watch. For the third week in a row we have a new number one on our list. Familiar faces are starting to solidify their spots in the MVP rankings, but it’s still early and surprises are sure to come before seasons end.
Here’s our breakdown of the 2012-13 NBA MVP race, after three weeks of Basketball.
5#- Zach Randolph – Memphis Grizzlies
16.7 points, 13.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 blocks
After the Grizzles beat the HEAT, Thunder, undefeated Knicks and revamped Bobcats, their eight game win streak was snapped by the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. Despite the loss, Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies are tied for the best record in the Western Conference. Randolph remains the only player in the NBA with a double-double in each of his first 10 games. He leads the NBA in rebounds and is fourth in scoring among power forwards. His 47% from the free throw line is the highest he’s shot since joining the Grizzlies in 2009-10. If Randolph continues to play this well, I don’t see why he can’t move up a spot. But he’d need to drastically improve his scoring in order to make it into the top three.
4#- Kobe Bryant - Los Angeles Lakers
26.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks
Don’t look now, but here comes Kobe Bryant. This week Kobe has been on a tear, averaging 26 points in his last three games. He passed Carmelo Anthony as the leading scorer in the NBA with 26.3 points per game lead the NBA. With Nash and Steve Blake out with injuries, Kobe has also recorded five or more assists in his last five games. He’s taken it upon himself to get Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard going. The Lakers are on a three game winning streak and with the coaching situation now resolved, the Lakers can focus on winning basketball games and Kobe can focus on earning his second MVP award.
3#- Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
24.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.6 blocks
In one loss Carmelo Anthony moves from first to third? The Knicks may still remain the best team in the Eastern Conference, but this week Carmelo no longer leads his team in rebounds and Kobe has replaced him as the leading scorer in the NBA. Anthony is also shooting just 28% from three-point range in his last four games. While the Knicks continue to lead the league in points allowed with 88.9, Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph each recorded double-doubles against Anthony, while David West scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in his match up against the Knicks power forward. Don’t count Carmelo out of the race yet, he will continue to put up points, but Anthony will need to rebound and defend like he did in weeks one and two if he wants to top James and Durant this season.
2#- LeBron James – Miami HEAT
24.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.9 assists
For the second week in a row LeBron James has been named the Eastern Conference player of the week. His 29.0 points per game led the league and he also managed to grab 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists. In Thursdays win against the Nuggets, James recorded his eight double-double in eleven games. What has impressed me the most about James this season is that he is shooting 52% from the floor and he’s only averaging 2.1 turnovers, while increasing his assists from last season. Despite Wade’s injuries, Bosh and James have kept Miami in the top spot of the Southeast division and in second place in the Eastern Conference.
1#- Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
24.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.4 blocks
It’s amazing that it has taken Kevin Durant six seasons to get his first triple-double. But the fact that he’s averaging career highs in rebounds and assists, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a couple more as the season progresses. Durant and LeBron have had very similar seasons thus far. Their points per game are identical, their team records the same, and they’ve both increased their rebounding numbers from last season. I give Durant the nod this week because he remains ninth in rebounds, first in defensive rebounds per game. Durant is also shooting a higher percentage from the free throw line and from three-point line. These two will continue to battle and you’d have to assume that it will come down to the two of them by seasons end.
Dwight Howard – 20.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals
Jrue Holiday – 18.6 points, 8.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals
Does Zach Randolph deserve to be on this list? Was I too critical of Carmelo’s performance this week? Is your MVP not on this list? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! Make sure to check back next week to see who moved up and who moved down in the race for the 2012-13 MVP.