Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Kevin Love are the only three players, previously in an MVP race, who were left out of the Week 3 MVP Race. Curry and Harden’s absences are mostly due to injury. Although Kevin Love is still playing like an MVP, his team has quickly tumbled down the West.
Teams such as the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies have moved past to Wolves as we reach December. It’s possible that a player from those teams finds his way into this MVP Race.
The Eastern Conference has a lousy two teams with winning records. That explains the Western Conference player to Eastern Conference player MVP ratio being seven to three.
Six of the top eight MVP candidates are from the Western Conference. But does our current MVP still belong in the East?
Honorable Mention: James Harden (LW: 7), Kevin Love (LW: 10), Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Damian Lillard
10. Ty Lawson (DEN) – 20.9 PTS (46.0 FG%), 8.4 AST, 3.9 REB, 1.3 STL, 0.1 BLK. Team Record: 8-6. Last Week: Not Ranked.
Surprised to see Ty Lawson in my MVP Race? I don’t think you should be…Denver has won seven of its last nine games, including four straight. Lawson has a 3.1 assist-turnover ratio and is shooting over 50 percent in the last week. After having a bumpy first few games, Lawson has revitalized this uptempo Nugget squad. Lawson continues to improve and carry more responsibility year after year. He’s up 4.2 points and 1.5 assists from last season.
9. Al Horford (ATL) – 17.1 PTS (55.3 FG%), 8.1 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.1 STL, 1.9 BLK. Team Record: 8-8. Last Week: 9.
Atlanta has dropped three straight games, causing Indiana and Miami to be the only Eastern Conference teams with winning records. However, it’s unfair to put the blame on Al Horford. He does what he can, but he just doesn’t have enough talent around him for Atlanta to compete with the Pacers and Heat. There are other All-Star caliber centers in the East such as Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, and Joakim Noah. However, Horford provides Atlanta with so much offense. If the Hawks can remain a top four or five seed in the East, Horford should get the nod to go to New Orleans in February.
8. Dwight Howard (HOU) – 17.3 PTS (56.6 FG%), 12.9 REB, 1.9 AST, 0.6 STL, 2.2 BLK. Team Record: 11-5. Last Week: HM.
The days of Dwight Howard being the first option on offense are over. There are far too many great guards in the league for Howard not to join forces with one and compete for a title. When he was in Orlando, the Magic lived and died by Howard, even on the offensive end. His points and blocks are down from his best years with Orlando. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t the same player. With Harden by his side, Howard doesn’t need to worry about being the consistent 20 point scorer he once was.
7. Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 20.8 PTS (94.0 FT%), 6.3 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.2 STL, 0.4 BLK. Team Record: 10-6. Last Week: 8.
Nowitzki was out for a decent portion of the 2012-13 season. That definitely made Dallas’ playoff chances slimmer. This season, there seems to be a slightly different picture. Nowitzki appears to be 100 percent healthy and Monta Ellis has taken this offense to a new level. Dirk has connected on 78 of his 83 free throw attempts. He’s also making more threes than he’s made in a very long time. I’d imagine Rick Carsisle is encouraging Nowitzki to stretch the floor so the Mavs can get back to being a highly productive offensive team.
6. Chris Paul (LAC) – 19.0 PTS (90.6 FT%), 12.2 AST, 5.0 REB, 2.4 STL, 0.1 BLK. Team Record: 11-5. Last Week: 6.
CP3 is averaging well over three assists higher than any other player in the league. He also has a 4.3 assist-turnover ratio, which is far better than most other good point guards. He’s only taking 13.6 field goals per game but still manages to score almost 20 a game with his ability to get to the free throw line. Paul is the definition of an extraordinarily efficient point guard. Will Paul ever be able to take his Clippers as far as Tony Parker takes the Spurs?
5. LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 22.1 PTS (77.5 FT%), 9.6 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.3 STL, 1.0 BLK. Team Record: 13-3. Last Week: 3.
Portland’s surprisingly extended winning streak came finally to an end…in a disappointing fashion. Portland got blown out in its second trip to Phoenix, marking the second time losing to the Suns in double digits. It was easy to tell the tank was running low in that game and that Aldridge and the Blazers needed a wake up call. Aldridge has been a great player for a while. However, this year, he’s clearly playing with a new hunger.
4. LeBron James (MIA) – 26.1 PTS (59.8 FG%), 6.7 AST, 5.9 REB, 1.1 STL, 0.3 BLK. Team Record: 12-3. Last Week: 5.
Miami has woken up from its summer championship celebration and put together an eight game winning streak (hottest team in NBA). Obviously, any winning streak starts with the profound impact of LeBron James. Including this season, James has comfortably stuck around 26 points per game in his four years with the Heat. James’ field goal percentage looks to be increasing for the seventh straight season. He’s gone from shooting 47.6 percent in 06-07 to nearly 60 percent this season. That’s pretty amazing. We’ll see if he can stick around 60 percent all year long.
3. Tony Parker (SAN) – 17.7 PTS (53.2 FG%), 6.2 AST, 2.5 REB, 0.5 STL, 0.1 BLK. Team Record: 13-2. Last Week: 4.
Along with Portland, the Spurs’ 11-game winning streak was snapped Wednesday night. That’s because they played Oklahoma City, who they’re sure to have trouble with if the two meet in the postseason. Parker isn’t expected to defend Russell Westbrook, but he does often help on Westbrook because of Westbrook’s explosiveness when making a move. Parker has never had an issue with conserving his energy for offense. He was recently quoted saying he thinks he could play a 20-year career, all with the magnificent Spurs.
2. Kevin Durant (OKC) – 28.2 PTS (10.3 FTM), 7.5 REB, 5.1 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.4 BLK. Team Record: 10-3. Last Week: 2
KD35 stays put at number two but isn’t too far behind the number one spot. As long as the two superstars are healthy, the Thunder will be one of the superior teams in the NBA. I would safely consider Kevin Durant the master of scoring the ball. We know he can do it anywhere, anytime, and anyplace. Durant averages three or more free throw attempts than any other guard or forward. He’s perfected all his signature moves and added more to his resume. This could very well be Durant’s year to hold the trophy.
1. Paul George (IND) – 23.7 PTS (2.3 3PM), 6.3 REB, 3.3 AST, 2.0 STL, 0.4 BLK. Team Record: 14-1. Last Week: 1
Paul George remains stable at the top of the MVP Race. The Pacers are playing the best basketball in the league and George is doing a tremendous job directing the offense. PG24 does have very good court vision, but can’t yet utilize that skill like LeBron or Durant does. George has become one of the more dangerous players from three-point range. Usually, the better Indiana is playing, the more outside shots George connects on, and vice-versa. Indiana will continue to earn more respect as George continues to play great on both sides of the ball.
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