This Year’s NBA MVP Candidates
The NFL regular season is over, and those who had a vote for MVP are sure to have cast it already. Clearly, that vote came down to Michael Vick and Tom Brady, with the latter being the choice of TheSportsWatchers.
However, it’s basketball season, and it’s time to move on. This year’s NBA MVP is about as open as it has ever been. Over the past three years, the choice has obviously been LeBron James, even though he only won it in two of those years. This year, with LeBron deferring to his all-star teammates a little bit more, and with so many other players playing for new teams and in new roles, the race for the MVP is about as varied as it has ever been.
So, what leading men are in contention for the 2011 NBA MVP award? Here are the cases for a few of the best players at this point in the NBA’s regular season.
LeBron James – Miami Heat
Like a lot of people, we root against the Miami Heat, but only because we like the underdog. We certainly don’t fault LeBron James for deciding to go to Miami, and “The Decision,” while tacky in all regard, was the exact kind of pompous, train wreck kind of stuff that we love to see in entertainment. So, kudos to LeBron! And kudos to his talent. LeBron’s numbers aren’t what they were in Miami, and they probably never will be. While we are disappointed that he’s not averaging anything close to a triple double this season, at 25 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, it’s going to be hard to find someone who is playing better than he is. Quite frankly, that player may not exist, and LeBron appears to be getting better with each and every game that passes.
Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls
A lot of people are on the Derrick Rose bandwagon, and rightfully so. Rose is averaging 24 points per game, 8 assists and 1 steal. He’s shooting a lot better from 3-point land this season too, making 39.4% of his shots from behind the arc. More importantly, he’s the point guard for a team that is 3rd in the Eastern Conference right now. Could Rose afford to be a little more efficient than 45% from the field when he’s taking over 24% of the Chicago Bulls shots? Of course. But if he can keep chucking it up well-enough for the Bulls to stay near the top of the East, we may have one of the youngest players in the history of the NBA to win the MVP award.
Chris Paul – New Orleans Hornets
The New Orleans Hornets cooled down after one heck of a start to the 2010-2011 NBA season. However, don’t blame too much of that on Chris Paul, who remains the NBA’s leader in player efficiency. Of course, Paul drops 17 points and 10 dimes a game on teams too, so he’s more than just an efficient player, he’s prolific. He’s probably never going to get the credit he deserves this season while his team flounders around as the 6th or 7th seed in the Western Conference. But if the Hornets can go back to their winning ways, he very well could be put into serious contention for this year’s MVP award.
Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
We are opposed to putting two people from the same team on the list, which is why you won’t find Dwyane Wade on our list of MVP contenders. Same goes for Kevin Durant, who is having just about as good a season as his starting point guard, but at the end of the day, we like Russell Westbrook’s play a little bit better than the NBA’s runner up from a season ago. Westbrook has been absolutely dominant this season, rendering Durant to a lesser role as a scorer and making so many players on Oklahoma City look a lot better than what they have looked like in years past. Westbrook averages 22 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds per game. Only Derrick Rose and LeBron James are putting up those kinds of numbers across the board; thus, in our estimation, Westbrook belongs in the same conversation they do.
Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki has won this award before, and I’ll be damned if he can’t win it again. Before Dirk went down with an injury, his team was playing better basketball than anybody in the NBA. They have “struggled” a little bit without him, losing to teams they probably would have otherwise beaten, but when Dirk comes back, rest assure, he’ll have the Dallas Mavericks back on top of the West. Dirk is 4th in the league in efficiency, and he probably scores the least noticeable 24 points of anyone in the league because of how smoothly he does it. Caron Butler is out for the season, meaning Dirk will have an even bigger role upon returning to the squad. Expect his numbers to be even better for the rest of the season, and if they are, he might be the NBA’s next MVP—again!
Amare Stoudemire – New York Knicks
The New York Knicks sure are glad that signing Amare Stoudemire did not blow up in their faces. A lot of people (including us) weren’t sure that Amare gave the Knicks a lot more than David Lee did at the same position, and Amare costs almost twice as much. Boy, were those people wrong! David Lee is about as far away as one can be from leading the NBA in scoring 4th quarter points or ranking second in points per game. Sure, Amare can’t rebound worth a damn, but his defense (when he’s not in foul trouble) is much better than one would have expected it to be this year, and there’s no doubt that the Knicks are a sub-.500 team without him. However, while Amare should be in contention for the MVP award, there’s really no reason to believe that a power forward that doesn’t average 10 rebounds and finishes 6th in East is going to realistically win the award. Sorry, New York. Believe it or not, it hurts us New Yorkers to say that.
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