Ranking the 2012-13 Early NBA MVP Candidates
The Maurice Podolof trophy is given each year to the NBA's most valuable player for the regular season. Last year LeBron James joined elite company as he became just the eight person in NBA history to obtain three MVP awards.
The King will look to take it a step further next season and grab a fourth MVP award, which has only been done by Kareem, Wilt, Russell, and Jordan. However, LeBron doesn't have the easiest of roads as the NBA is filled with tons of players who are capable of engraving their own name in the history books.
7. Kobe Bryant
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As Kobe's glory days dwindle down, it is still impressive to see him atop the league in scoring every year. Many people believed that Kobe would experience a significant drop off last year, as the Lakers failed to make any radical changes (that didn't get nullified) to make the team any better. Also, the thought of a coach that wasn't named Phil Jackson telling Kobe what to do didn't sound promising. However, Kobe still had an exceptional year, as he finished second only to Kevin Durant in scoring as the Lakers grabbed the third seed in the West.
With the addition of Steve Nash, the Lakers definitely made a significant improvement this offseason. With a few new faces, the Lakers have the potential to be back in the finals. If the Lakers do happen to see themselves back at the top of the league, it would only make sense for Kobe to be in the MVP discussion.
6. Chris Paul
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Chris Pauls is always in the talk for the "best point guard in the league" debate. His quickness, elusiveness, ball handling and passing ability all combine to form the incredible player that he is.
As the Clippers are getting better and better, Paul will attract more and more attention from the voters. The combination of him and Blake Griffin has an exponential amount of potential, as "Lob City" is officially making its way on the map, banking on the hope that Paul does decide to stay in L.A. next year.
Last year CP3 averaged 19 points, nine assists and about 2.5 steals per game. Not only is he an offensive catalyst, but he is a thief on defense. If the Clippers can make a push towards the top of the Western Conference standings, much of the credit would go to Chris Paul.
5. Deron Williams
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Deron Williams flew a little under the radar last year as the Nets lost some of their key players to injury. Despite the fact that the Nets had a dismal year, Williams did not, averaging 21 points and eight assists a game.
The reason Nets fans should be optimistic is that when Lopez came back from his injury last year, Williams immediately picked up his play. The Nets made a small statement, including a 57 point game by Deron Williams against the Charlotte Bobcats, a Nets record.
With Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson being there to start off the Brooklyn campaign, look for Deron Williams to try and show the league that he is one of the best point guards in the game.
4. Kevin Love
Any time you average 26 points and 13 rebounds a game, you're probably a viable MVP candidate. However, when you're team goes 26-40 with no hope of making the playoffs, you might be taken out of consideration.
Kevin Love's borderline historic numbers went unnoticed not only last year, but the year before as well when he averaged over 15 rebounds a game. With Ricky Rubio coming back fully healed, and Brandon Roy coming out of retirement, Love will have some helpers. If Love can put up the same type of numbers he has in the past, and be on a team making a playoff push, there is no doubt he can be a serious candidate.
3. Rajon Rondo
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Despite the departure of Ray Allen, which some people are attributing to Rondo's attitude, the Celtics have done a fine job of filling out their roster over the offseason. With Avery Bradley looking to take on the starting role once he heals from his injury, the C's signed Jason Terry and Curtney Lee to give the Celtics some experience and skill off the bench. In addition, the Celtics had a great draft as they picked up two solid big men in Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. With all these tools, it is now Rondo's time to shine and take over the team.
Rondo had one of the best postseasons any one could possibly ask for. He contributed on all levels, averaging 17.3 ppg, 11.7 apg, and even 6.7 rpg. He recorded four triple-doubles in the playoffs, after having six in the regular season, joining Larry Bird as the only player to post a triple-double in a Game 7. In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Rondo recorded 44 points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists, becoming the only player in NBA playoff history to do so. On top of that, he passed Bob Cousy for the most playoff games with at least 10 assists.
Simply put, Rondo went off in the playoffs.
This all shows that Rondo has what it takes to achieve superstar status. He was able to lead an aging Celtics team to seven games in the conference finals against the best team in the world. If Rondo can put up numbers even remotely close to the ones he did in the playoffs and lead the Celtics to at least 50 wins, Rondo has serious MVP potential.
2. Kevin Durant
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I'm not going to lie, I think I may have shed a tear watching Durant hug his mother after finishing off the Spurs on his way to his first NBA Finals.
The media loves to ridicule Russell Westbrook, whether it be for his poor shot selection or the fact that he takes the ball away from Durant. However, Durant is often heard defending Wesbrook, claiming that Russell makes him a better player. This is just an example of how Durant is a born leader, and more importantly, how he always has his teammates back.
He won his third scoring title at only age 23. He's young, efficient and explosive, as he is well on his way towards filling out an unbelievable Hall of Fame resume.
Many people thought Durant was deserving of the MVP award last year. He definitely did deserve it, except for the fact that he was competing in the same league as LeBron.
In a couple years, its very possible that Durant will surpass LeBron as the league's alpha male, but unless Durant has an even better statistical year than he did last year, and a first place finish in the West, he won't be more deserving that LeBron in 2013.
1. LeBron James
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After capturing his third MVP trophy, a championship ring, a finals MVP award and an eventual gold medal, it's really hard to say that LeBron isn't the best basketball player in the world right now.
I don't need to tell you about his eight All-Star appearances. I don't need to mention that he's a six-time All-NBA first team selection, and a four-time All-NBA defensive first team selection. I don't need talk about the fact that he's a scoring champion, MVP, rookie of the year, Cleveland's all-time leading scorer, Olympic gold medalist and NBA champion, for you to know that LeBron is in a league of his own.
There are only two possibilities that will prevent James from winning his fourth MVP award: either a drastic injury (which hasn't happened once in his nine year career), or the possibility that the voters will be sympathetic towards Kevin Durant. Baring these two circumstances, it is quite obvious that LeBron will be the best player for the 2012-13 season.