Spurs, Heat or Grizzlies for No. 1?
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Do you go for flash, grit or substance?
USA TODAY Sports’ NBA power rankings voters couldn’t quite agree, but the team with the best record in the NBA over the past three seasons won out for the top spot this week. The San Antonio Spurs, powered by Tony Parker’s recent hot streak and Tim Duncan’s ageless play, beat the defending NBA champion Miami Heat and the tough-as-nails Memphis Grizzlies.
The Spurs lost to the Clippers for the second time this season last week, but they moved up in the rankings with three more wins before Monday’s throttling of the winless Washington Wizards. Here’s a look at the top five (votes cast before Monday’s games):
1. San Antonio Spurs: They took four of seven first-place votes.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Two others voted for the team with the best winning percentage in the NBA.
3. Miami Heat: Even at 10-3, the defending champs only received one vote.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Monday’s complete domination of the Charlotte Bobcats should help.
5. New York Knicks: An overtime loss Monday at the Brooklyn Nets isn’t anything to scoff at.
The awards voting followed the way this season has gone. The MVP seems likely to land back with LeBron James for a fourth time in five seasons. The Miami Heat star is scoring less than he has in any season since his rookie year, but he is posting those 25.2 points a game efficiently and adding 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists a game.
Here’s a look at the top five MVP frontrunners (points on a 7-5-3-2-1 scale):
1. LeBron James, Heat: He received six of seven first-place votes and 47 points.
2. Kevin Durant, Thunder: One first-place vote, 34 points.
3. Tim Duncan, Spurs: 15 points.
4. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks: 10 points.
5. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: seven points.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph and Heat forward Chris Bosh also received votes.
The rookie race took a crucial turn when No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets went down with an ankle injury. Three voters excluded Davis from their ballots because he only has played six games, though he … [For more on NBA power rankings: Spurs, Heat or Grizzlies for No. 1?, click here.]