Before I get started with this week’s top 10 MVP candidates, I want to note a few things:
1. Team record, as well as conference seed, matters a lot to me.
2. The margin between the number two, three, and four MVP candidates is very slim this week.
3. At this time in the 2006-07 season, Gilbert Arenas A.K.A. “Agent Zero” was the favorite to win MVP.
10. Kevin Love (MIN) – 25.2 PTS (2.5 3PM), 13.7 REB, 4.2 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.4 BLK. Team Record: 13-13. Last Week: Not Ranked.
I know. You’re probably thinking number ten is too low. If the Timberwolves were around fifth seed in the West, I’d have him at least a few spots higher. Kevin Love is Minnesota’s superman. Some of Love’s performances this year have left an indelible impression on the league. 42 points and 14 rebounds with eight threes. 29 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists.
9. Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 21.1 PTS (41.9 3P%), 6.0 REB, 2.9 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.8 BLK. Team Record: 15-10. Last Week: 9.
Let’s compare Kevin Love to Nowitzki: Love’s stats are a lot better and he’s playing with more of an MVP’s sense of urgency. However, Minnesota has more overall talent than Dallas (Rubio, Martin, Pekovic, etc.) Nowitzki and Ellis carry the bulk of the weight for the Mavs. That explains why Nowitzki is ranked ahead of Love in my MVP Race.
8. Al Horford (ATL) – 18.0 PTS (55.5 FG%), 8.5 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.6 BLK. Team Record: 14-12. Last Week: 10.
Let me explain why I have Horford at eight: The Hawks are third seed in the East. The way things are shaping up now, I think they are confident they should be able to stay in that position. Horford has quietly been one of the most clutch fourth-quarter players this year. He’s hit a couple game-winners and he’s always dangerous in crunch time.
7. Tony Parker (SAN) – 17.5 PTS (51.4 FG%), 6.0 AST, 2.6 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.0 BLK. Team Record: 21-5. Last Week: 5.
Stats aren’t the reason Parker slipped two spots in my MVP Race. It’s mostly because he’s missed the last couple games. Not to say the two players who jumped ahead of him don’t deserve credit for playing great basketball lately. Parker is always under-appreciated when it comes to talking about MVP-caliber players in this league.
6. Dwight Howard (HOU) – 17.7 PTS (58.0 FG%), 13.0 REB, 1.7 AST, 0.8 STL, 1.8 BLK. Team Record: 17-9. Last Week: 7.
James Harden is the leader of the Rockets and the best offensive player. However, defense is just as, if not more, important than offense. Dwight Howard’s presence in the middle is the main reason for Houston’s much improved defense this year. He isn’t averaging two blocked shots, but he still alters plenty of shots in the paint.
5. Chris Paul (LAC) – 19.5 PTS (87.3 FT%), 11.3 AST, 4.7 REB, 2.3 STL, 0.1 BLK. Team Record: 18-9. Last Week: 6.
Finally, Chris Paul cracks the top five of my MVP Race. I think a lot of people would love to see Chris Paul win MVP. However, it’s incredibly difficult for him to overcome the impact of LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Paul would become a more viable MVP contender if he could take his team to the same elite level Durant and James take their teams.
4. LeBron James (MIA) – 25.2 PTS (59.7 FG%), 6.8 REB, 6.5 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.3 BLK. Team Record: 19-6. Last Week: 4.
Recall my note at the top regarding the margin between number two, three, and four. James could easily be second in my MVP Race. He’s obviously playing incredibly efficient basketball, as he’s averaging 25, six, six, and shooting nearly 60 percent. The Heat have also climbed within a game of the Pacers. Message to the top three candidates: look out below.
3. LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 23.3 PTS (79.0 FT%), 11.1 REB, 2.8 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.9 BLK. Team Record: 22-5. Last Week: 3.
Who, in their wildest dreams, thought LaMarcus Aldridge would seriously be competing for the NBA’s MVP? Not to say people didn’t know Aldridge was at an All-Star level before this season. But now he’s at a superstar level and he’s led his team to be neck-and-neck with the Thunder and Spurs. Bow down to the season Aldridge is having this year.
2. Paul George (IND) – 23.8 PTS (2.6 3PM), 5.8 REB, 3.6 AST, 2.0 STL, 0.3 BLK. Team Record: 20-5. Last Week: 2.
It was really hard to decide if I should put James ahead of George (I know they’re two spots away). George has spent most of the season at the top of my MVP Race. Therefore, until James shows a clear advantage over George, I’ll keep George first. He doesn’t have the all-around stats James has, but he’s a better outside shooter and that really hurts opponents.
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) – 28.7 PTS (42.5 3P%), 8.2 REB, 4.9 AST, 1.6 STL, 1.0 BLK. Team Record: 21-4. Last Week: 1.
In the last five to ten games, KD has really set himself apart from the rest of the league. OKC is arguably playing the best basketball in the league. Durant remains the most dangerous scorer in league and he’s showing improved court vision this season. I see no reason Durant shouldn’t win MVP if the Thunder finish with the best record in the NBA.