Power Ranking Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Every NBA Team's MVP
The NBA does not tangibly recognize each team's most valuable player, but that doesn't mean there is not a clear-cut recipient of such an honor.
But who's the MVP of MVPs?
That's what we're here to figure out.
30. Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Bobcats
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.4 points, 4.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, 0.9 steals, 1.7 turnovers, 36.6 percent shooting
There is not much of value on the Bobcats roster, but Kemba Walker is one of the few exceptions. Walker is having a solid rookie season and has played in all 48 games, providing stability to a tumultuous Charlotte rotation.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Walker has given the Bobcats hope for the future. And right now, for this team and its fanbase, that's something you can't put a price on.
29. Jose Calderon, PG, Toronto Raptors
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 10.5 points, 8.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 44.4 percent shooting
Andrea Bargnani and Jerryd Bayless have been in and out of the rotation all season long while DeMar DeRozan has remained a source of uncertainty.
And that's just a taste of what Jose Calderon has been up against.
Calderon is underrated. His ability to direct an offense and bring out the most in his teammates is recognized to some extent, but not nearly to the degree it should be.
Thus far, the Raptors haven't been great, but under the diligent eye of Calderon, they've avoided becoming a pushover.
28. Jarrett Jack, PG, New Orleans Hornets
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.5 points, 6.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 0.2 blocks, 0.7 steals, 2.4 turnovers, 45.7 percent shooting
If you're not sold on Jarrett Jack as a legitimate starting point guard, you're behind the times.
It hasn't always been easy to watch the Hornets this season, but on more than a few occasions, they've managed to keep things interesting.
Jack has emerged as a leader during a rough season for New Orleans. His ever-improving offensive game and never-ending supply of energy has the Hornets looking like a team with a future.
One worth waiting around for, in fact.
27. Greg Monroe, C, Detroit Pistons
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.0 points, 2.4 assists, 9.8 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 1.2 steals, 2.6 turnovers, 51.6 percent shooting
Greg Monroe has really come a long way since his rookie season. The center has refined his low-post scoring skills and has proven to have some of the best hands of any big men in the NBA.
Detroit began the season lethargic and void of all hope. As we near the final stretch of the season, though, the Pistons are playing with a purpose and Monroe is an integral part of their newfound efforts.
26. Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.4 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 0.1 blocks, 1.4 steals, 2.6 turnovers, 47.5 percent shooting
It's difficult to select an MVP from a team that thrives off an unselfish dynamic like the Nuggets do, but if there is one, it's Ty Lawson.
Lawson has emerged as a willing leader both on and off the court in Denver and is rapidly establishing himself as one of the league's premier floor generals.
He leads his team in points, assists and steals per game, and has the third-highest field-goal percentage among point guards, trailing only Steve Nash and Chris Paul. That's good company to be in.
25. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 18.8 points, 5.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 0.4 blocks, 1.0 steals, 3.1 turnovers, 47.2 percent shooting
For a while there, the Cavaliers looked like they could make a play for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, and they have Kyrie Irving to thank for that.
Irving is a near lock for Rookie of the Year honors, and it's hard to argue against him. On the heels of Irving's lights-out shooting, Cleveland has returned to respectability.
The point guard has given the Cavaliers someone to build around while instilling life into a franchise that was void of all hope less than year ago.
And that's of significant value.
24. Luis Scola, PF, Houston Rockets
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.0 points, 2.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, 0.4 steals, 2.5 turnovers, 50.1 percent shooting
Kyle Lowry—when healthy—has been a sensation. Goran Dragic and Chandler Parsons have stolen the show as of late, but the Rockets would be nowhere without the pillar of consistency that is Luis Scola.
Scola is one of the NBA's unsung heroes. He's made a career off efficient shooting and a willingness to hit the floor for loose balls as well as draw fouls.
While the power forward will never blow up the stat line or play lockdown defense, he's durable and dependable, two virtues Houston has lacked all season long.
23. David Lee, PF, Golden State Warriors
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 19.4 points, 2.7 assists, 9.8 rebounds, 0.4 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.4 turnovers, 50.3 percent shooting
David Lee simply does not receive enough credit.
With Monta Ellis in Milwaukee and Stephen Curry on the sidelines, Lee has become the Warriors' primary leader. Despite Golden State's struggles, he has delivered.
Lee leads the team in scoring and rebounds and has managed to remain healthy amidst a lockout-truncated schedule that has him battling down low with minimal rest and almost no assistance.
Most importantly, though, Lee has provided a sense of stability to what is now one of the most enigmatic teams in the league.
22. Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 18.4 points, 5.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, 1.5 steals, 2.2 turnovers, 40.5 percent shooting
Even before the arrival of Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings had the Bucks eyeing the playoffs.
Let that sink in. Without Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee was competitive—borderline exciting—and a large part of that was Jennings' maturation as both a player and leader.
Jennings' 40.5 percent field-goal percentage may not seem like much, but it's the highest of his career. He is making better decisions, on both ends of the floor, and it shows in his teammates' production.
Not to mention the Bucks' place in the Eastern Conference food chain.
21. Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.1 points, 1.6 assists, 9.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 0.5 steals, 2.1 turnovers, 50.0 percent shooting
Roy Hibbert has led the defensive charge in Indiana.
The Pacers now have the NBA's seventh-ranked defense, allowing just over 93 points per game. Hibbert's presence in the low post has forced the opposition to the perimeter as well as given Indiana a matchup edge against teams like the Heat and Bulls.
Hibbert's improved offensive game has made him even more valuable. He has developed a nice touch around the basket and opened the floor for his teammates.
His monstrous two-way impact renders him the Pacers' MVP.
20. Andre Iguodala, SF, Philadelphia 76ers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.3 points, 5.6 assists, 6.4 rebounds, 0.4 blocks, 1.8 steals, 1.8 turnovers, 44.8 percent shooting
Andre Iguodala is a jack of all trades. He does everything there is to do on a basketball court, and he does it well.
The small forward is another one who won't put up flamboyant numbers on a daily basis, but he provides a slew of intangibles—leadership, perseverance, instinctive—that are impossible to put a price on.
Iguodala is a scorer, he's a passer and he's a defender. He's whatever the Sixers need him to be.
19. Tyson Chandler, C, New York Knicks
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 11.3 points, 1.0 assists, 9.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 1.6 turnovers, 67.4 percent shooting
Not everything Tyson Chandler does gets entered into a stat sheet—his league-leading field-goal percentage sure does—but make no mistake that his will to win has carried the Knicks through their toughest of periods.
While Chandler's near double-double each night is impressive, it doesn't even begin to tell the story. His hustle on both ends of the floor combined with his tendency to embrace the dirty work make him irreplaceable.
The center may not score 20 or more points that often, but he'll dive for every loose ball or tip out an offensive rebound, creating an additional opportunity for one of his teammates.
Most importantly, though, he's consistent—a virtue the Knicks cannot attach a tangible value to.
18. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 21.3 points, 2.4 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 51.0 percent shooting
As the Blazers continue to not-so-subtly descend into the depths of ineptitude, LaMarcus Aldridge continues to have an MVP-like impact.
While Portland has struggled in a search for an identity, Aldridge's repeated display of offensive dominance makes it obvious he has already found his.
The Blazers, on the coattails of Aldridge, were supposed to contend for a title this year. Now, it looks as if the power forward will have to settle for serving as a glimmer of hope on a severely underachieving team.
17. Al Jefferson, C, Utah Jazz
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 19.4 points, 2.2 assists, 9.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 0.8 steals, 1.2 turnovers, 49.5 percent shooting
Without Deron Williams to lean on, the Jazz were searching for a pillar to latch on to, and Al Jefferson stepped up.
He leads Utah in points, rebounds and blocks per game, and has established himself as one of the league's best two-way big men in the process.
Jefferson has great hands, quick feet and superior instincts. Combined, they've allowed him to lead the Jazz right into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
16. Joe Johnson, SG, Atlanta Hawks
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 19.3 points, 3.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 44.4 percent shooting
Josh Smith has more of a two-way impact than Joe Johnson does, but after single-handedly carrying the Hawks to victory over the Jazz in a quadruple-overtime thriller, there's no doubt the shooting guard is Atlanta's MVP.
After a disappointing season last year in which he toiled with the contractual-bust label, Johnson has improved his numbers across the board. He is knocking down nearly 39 percent of his three-point attempts, up more than 10 percent from last season.
Whether or not the Hawks are legitimate contenders is up for debate; Johnson's role in allowing them to be a part of the conversation is not.
15. DeMarcus Cousins, PF, Sacramento Kings
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 1.5 assists, 11.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 2.8 turnovers, 44.0 percent shooting
DeMarcus Cousins has an attitude problem, but it is in no way, shape or form affecting his ability to make a prolific contribution on the hardwood.
Cousins is fourth in the league in rebounding and plays over five minutes fewer per game than the third-ranked Andrew Bynum. He is posting a PER of 21.36 and has been a numbers machine.
Few players in the league are capable of having the type of impact Cousins has on either end; even fewer are capable of doing it in the limited amount of playing time he's received.
14. John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 7.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, 1.3 steals, 3.9 turnovers, 43.0 percent shooting
For most of the season, John Wall has done a lot with little to no assistance.
The sophomore leads the Wizards in points, assists and steals per game and is the NBA's second-leading rebounder for point guards.
Most importantly, though, Wall has never wavered in his loyalty to Washington. He has been supportive of his teammates, both outgoing and incoming, and left it on the floor each and every night.
That's tough to do when you're a member of a team that's emerged as one of the front-runners in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.
13. Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston Celtics
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 10.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 0.1 blocks, 1.8 steals, 3.7 turnovers, 45.3 percent shooting
And to think, the Celtics actually entertained the idea of trading Rajon Rondo.
Rondo's double-double stat line is usually reserved for big men, yet here he is, dishing out assists like they're going out of style.
Boston has become a poster team for age, but Rondo serves as a fountain of youth. He wreaks havoc on both ends of the floor, and any opposing defenses that let him get into the paint become sitting ducks.
The point guard would be ranked much higher if he could only pull his perimeter shooting together.
12. Rudy Gay, SF, Memphis Grizzlies
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 18.9 points, 2.3 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 1.5 steals, 2.6 turnovers, 45.1 percent shooting
The Grizzlies have made it abundantly clear on numerous occasions that a postseason run of last year's caliber is just not possible without Rudy Gay.
While Gay leads Memphis in scoring, he has made a name for himself outside the points-per-game column. His defense boasts a Tony Allen-like toughness to it, he has never been more effective on the glass and his unselfishness is at an all-time high.
Gay came into the season looking to prove his critics wrong.
Well, mission accomplished.
11. Steve Nash, PG, Phoenix Suns
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.1 points, 11.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 0.1 blocks, 0.7 steals, 3.7 turnovers, 54.2 percent shooting
If every player aged as well as Steve Nash, NBA athletes would extend their shelf life by at least five seasons.
Nash is the league's most efficient point guard from the field. He has led the Suns not only to respectability, but into the playoff race.
The point guard's impeccable court vision combined with his infallible instincts have him playing at a level much higher than his age would dictate.
And he shows no signs of slowing down.
10. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 21.0 points, 2.3 assists, 6.7 rebounds, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 1.8 turnovers, 45.5 percent shooting
There's a reason the Mavericks have managed to rise in the standings, and that reason is Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki continues to be automatic on the offensive end and his penchant for hitting fadeaways continues to be unmatchable.
The 33-year-old's numbers have dipped a bit, but he remains one of the most reliable and efficient scorers in the game.
9. Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 19.6 points, 8.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 0.1 blocks, 1.0 steals, 2.7 turnovers, 47.4 percent shooting
Tony Parker has led the Spurs to dominance this season.
While San Antonio's success is the result of a balanced attack and complete selflessness, Parker has been a standout. He has helped the team navigate its way past multiple injuries to Manu Ginobili, all the while solidifying his spot amongst the NBA's top point guards.
Now, he's got San Antonio thinking championship.
8. Deron Williams, PG, New Jersey Nets
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 21.8 points, 8.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 0.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 4.0 turnovers, 41.1 percent shooting
Deron Williams has had to deal with a depleted Nets roster all season long, yet he still finds a way to dominate the stat lines and keep New Jersey competitive.
The point guard, while shooting a fairly average 34.7 percent from downtown, has been liable to light it up from long range on any given night. He has turned rookie MarShon Brooks into one of the deadliest spot-up shooters in the game and his precise passes make Kris Humphries look like an All-Star.
Whether or not Williams will leave the Nets after this season is irrelevant. He has already left his mark on this franchise and continues to strengthen his reputation around the league.
7. Kevin Love, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 26.3 points, 1.9 assists, 13.8 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.5 turnovers, 45.5 percent shooting
Even without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love plays like a stud.
The Timberwolves are finally relevant once again, a reality they owe to the league's second-leading rebounder. He has established himself as an offensive powerhouse while continuing to dominate on the glass.
Love's accolades have Minnesota in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and have also made him a legitimate part of the MVP conversation.
6. Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 22.8 points, 8.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.9 turnovers, 45 percent shooting
Despite having missed a large portion of the season, Derrick Rose has not only established himself as the Bulls' MVP, but kept himself in the conversation for league MVP as well.
The Bulls have fared well without Rose—posting a 13-5 record—but with him, they are a much more dangerous team.
Rose, the reigning MVP, has continued his explosive ways and helped lead his team to the NBA's best record. While his health is questionable, his place amongst the league's best is not.
5. Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 19.5 points, 8.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 0.1 blocks, 2.4 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 48.5 percent shooting
Blake Griffin is a human highlight reel, but Chris Paul is the one the Clippers look to when the game is on the line.
Los Angeles has struggled of late, but Paul has played magnificently. He has the second-highest field-goal percentage among point guards and his perimeter defense has been phenomenal.
If it weren't for the Clippers' numerous stretches of listlessness this season, Paul would be a viable candidate to take home the actual MVP award.
4. Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 21.1 points, 1.9 assists, 14.7 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 1.5 steals, 3.2 turnovers, 58.2 percent shooting
Once again, Dwight Howard is a lock for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Based on the correlation between his individual performance and the Magic's success, he's also a threat to snag some MVP shares as well.
The league's leading rebounder has continue his low-post dominance, and the fact that he's done most of this amidst a plethora of trade speculation is nothing short of respectable—though the way he handled the matter certainly wasn't.
Howard may not be the MVP of decision-making, but when it comes to on-court value, few even breach his level.
3. Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 28.3 points, 4.7 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 3.8 turnovers, 42.9 percent shooting
Kobe Bryant is in his 16th NBA season and yet he still continues to turn heads.
At 33, Bryant is having one of the best statistical seasons of his career. He hasn't stopped scoring in bunches and remains one of the league's premier perimeter defenders.
If it weren't for the fact that the Black Mamba was having the worst shooting season of his career since the 1997-98 campaign, he would be a lock to take home league MVP honors.
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 27.8 points, 3.5 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 1.5 steals, 3.7 turnovers, 50.2 percent shooting
Kevin Durant has continued to evolve as a player, as if that were even possible.
Though Durant is engaged in a tight battle for the NBA scoring title with Kobe Bryant, he has developed a strong sense of unselfishness. Durant has learned to defer when necessary, rendering him an even more dangerous player than last season.
And let's also not neglect to mention he has become much more than a one-trick pony; the small forward's perimeter defense has exceeded passable.
Durant has already taken home the All-Star MVP award, and don't be surprised if doubles up by obtaining league MVP honors as well.
1. LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 26.7 points, 6.6 assists, 8.3 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 2.0 steals, 3.5 turnovers, 53.4 percent shooting
It's a cliché when talking about a team's MVP to wonder where that club would be without said player, but seriously, where would the Heat be without LeBron James?
James leads the Heat in points, assists, rebounds and steals per game, as well as field-goal percentage, which is saying something when you're not a center.
James still hasn't come to grips with his role down the stretch, but his talent and his impact have never been more evident.
Right now, he's the NBA's MVP.
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