NBA MVP Shortlist: The League's Top Players

Gideon ResnickContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2012

NBA MVP Shortlist: The League's Top Players

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    This is Dwight Howard's year. So long as he stays with the Orlando Magic, which it is looking more and more like he will, Howard will and should win this year's MVP award. Last year he was in serious contention alongside Derrick Rose and LeBron James. His numbers are only improving while he shatters records this season. Howard is an unbelievable asset to any team and is single-handedly giving the Magic a legitimate opportunity to do well in the playoffs. 

Dwight Howard

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: Howard was discussed as a potential candidate last season and he is now averaging 20.5 points and 15.2 rebounds per game, which is an increase over his numbers last year. He is also the face of his franchise and is well-liked and respected. Howard is one of those players whose impact on his team necessitates most-valuable-player labeling. There is not a more ruthless, dominating center in the league and the Magic would suffer without him.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: Centers don't have it easy when it comes to winning the MVP award. Shaquille O'Neal was the last true center to get the award for the 1999-2000 season. It would also hinder Howard's chances if he left the Magic midway through the season. It's harder to assess a player's impact when they play for two separate teams. Also, it would hurt his image in terms of team loyalty. 

Kevin Durant

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: Always vying for the leading scorer position in the NBA with LeBron James, Durant is an explosive player. This year he is averaging 25.8 points per game, while the Thunder overall look far more impressive than in their previous seasons. Durant's public image is excellent too, as he is viewed as a humble team leader despite some his outbursts with Russell Westbrook. Also, the Thunder may just be the most popular team in the league. People love to see them win, especially if they go up against the Miami Heat in the finals.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: His defensive abilities are not as great as his offensive abilities. Now that the Thunder are a very legitimate title contender, with players like Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka, it makes it seem less like Durant is pulling all the strings. 

LeBron James

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: James has the greatest physical ability of any basketball player to ever grace the court. He is absolutely dominant, averaging an insane 29.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this year. LeBron also scores impressively and is quite possibly the most famous player in the league right now.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: His name is LeBron James. People hate James and the Heat and think that he is not as valuable to his team as other players because the team is comprised of superstars. In addition, James' fourth quarter performances this year have been a little shaky, missing key free throws and jumpers when they matter most. He may be the league's leading scorer and the most flashy player, but it'd be tough for him to grab another MVP title. 

Derrick Rose

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: When Rose drives to the basket, all hell breaks lose. He is establishing himself as one of the best, if not the best point guards in the league. Rose is averaging 20.8 points and 8.7 assists per game. He is still retaining his scoring ability while distributing the ball more in an effort to get his teammates more involved.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: Rose seemed to be acting with less help last year, as he dominated without Noah and Boozer for much of the season, only further illuminating his integral role on the team. However, this year the Bulls are stronger overall. Despite the fact that LeBron James repeated in the two years prior to Rose winning the MVP, it would be surprising to see him get it again. Because the competition for the award is so stiff this year, someone else might make more of an impression in the short season. 

Kobe Bryant

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: HE'S AVERAGING 32 POINTS PER GAME RIGHT NOW! Bryant has found some kind of new gear so far this season after Phil Jackson and Lamar Odom left him with what seemed like a broken basketball team. He has put up over 40 points in consecutive games this year and looks to be playing some of the best basketball of his career. 

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: Can he keep this up? It is hard to say whether Bryant is truly going to have an entire season that reflects the first 14 games that he has played. He must stay healthy (which he doesn't seem to have too much of a problem with) and consistent to make himself a strong contender for the trophy. 

Dwayne Wade

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: Wade is the leader of the Miami Heat, the guy whose hands the ball should be in down the stretch. He is a clutch player, that is mostly unflappable, possessing playoff experience and the will to get another title. Wade is currently averaging 19.6 points and 5.4 assists per game, which is surprisingly a little low for him.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: LeBron James will always be thought of first when the Miami Heat are mentioned. Unfortunately Wade is no longer the primary star of the team. He also suffers from the fact that he and LeBron play together and are thus sometimes lumped into the same target of people's hatred. But the most important reason why his chances are comprised are the injuries he is sustaining this year. He is day-to-day with an ankle sprain at the moment and has already missed prior games due to injury. Wade must stay healthy to improve his MVP chances. 

Chris Paul

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: Chris Paul is a top five player in the league and arguably its best point guard. His numbers are excellent, 18 points and 8.4 assists per game, but his ball control and quickness are even more impressive. He always made a significant impact for the New Orleans Hornets, but now that he is on a better team with a bigger market and more attention, this could be the year for CP3.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: The Clippers are not good enough yet. Paul has the ability to control the tempo of games and dish the ball to whomever he pleases but the Clippers need to keep improving throughout the year to make his impact more noticeable. He also needs a little more consistency as some nights he'll put up as much as 33 and others only a third of that. 

LaMarcus Aldridge

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: Despite a huge name for himself and his team, Aldridge is a very solid power forward. He is averaging 22.8 points and 7.8 rebounds, scoring as much as 29 against tough teams like the San Antonio Spurs. Aldridge is also an excellent free throw shooter, which helps him finish games for the Blazers.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: Aldridge still flies under the radar, as do the Portland Trailblazers to some extent. Other power forwards like LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki take the limelight away from one of Portland's big men. Also, like the Clippers, the Blazers need some more impressive wins and a strong overall record to incentivize voters to care about Aldridge. They are currently 7-5 with wins against good teams like Denver, the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City. If they remain consistent and injury-free, which is seemingly impossible for them, Aldridge may emerge as a huge dark horse for the prize. 

Carmelo Anthony

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    REASONS WHY HE'LL WIN: Anthony is always an explosive offensive player, averaging 25.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He is a reason why the New York Knicks team could work. He has been a consistently great player since his days with the Denver Nuggets, always slightly evading the MVP prize. If the Knicks are going to be good this year it will be due in large part to this man.

    REASONS WHY HE WON'T WIN: The Knicks are remarkably inconsistent and Anthony is susceptible to injury, having already sat out an important game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Amare Stoudemire can also take some of the focus away from Anthony. If the Knicks rack up some key wins and move higher in their division, Anthony may end up an unlikely contender. 

And the Winner Is........

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    This is Dwight Howard's year as long as he stays with the Orlando Magic. As stated earlier, Howard is an unbelievable asset to any team and is single-handedly giving the Magic a legitimate opportunity to do well in the playoffs.