Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul: Who's This Year's NBA MVP?

John LewisSenior Writer IMarch 19, 2008

While Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant have put their respective teams on their backs for the past few months, can either of them make a claim for the MVP award?

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of his generation, but one piece of hardware that continues to elude him is the Most Valuable Player Award.

Although the Lakers are tied for first place in the Western Conference playoff standings, they've finished just seventh the past two seasons.

Some point fingers at Bryant, criticizing that his dominant scoring overshadows his teammates and fails to make them better.

Many voters are starting to lean more toward Chris Paul. His stats seem to get better every week. And the biggest argument for Paul is how he's put the New Orleans Hornets in contention for the West's best record.

Consider that the Hornets are just a half game behind Houston and L.A. for the top mark, some find it almost impossible to deny Paul the MVP trophy. Plus, the MVP should go to the player who makes his teammates better and also has the biggest impact on his club.

But besides Paul, Tracy McGrady, who most didn't even consider an MVP candidate a month ago, is making a sterling run. He's now in the conversation, though he'll have to do plenty more to get the vote.

The 22 wins straight is just incredible—10 straight without Yao—and if the Rockets win their next three games (New Orleans, Golden State and Phoenix), McGrady becomes a serious candidate for the award. But right now, he's got too many other things working against him.

In the last 25 years—since Moses Malone won the award with the 46-36 Rockets in 1982—no one has been named MVP when his team won fewer than 50 games.

Couple that with the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't going to win 50 despite playing in the wretched Eastern Conference, it's hard to give LeBron James the trophy.

I know that LeBron has carried the Cavs through holdout after holdout and injury after injury but his schedule isn't nearly as tough as the ones faced by Paul, Kobe, and McGrady.

There is no doubt that James and Bryant are arguably the top two players in the game. The 23-year-old James leads the league in scoring, 30.9 ppg, while the 10-time All-Star Bryant is second at 28.2 points per game.

But this year's vote should go to Chris Paul, simply for taking a Hornets team and making them a playoff contender.

Paul leads the Hornets in scoring 21.3 ppg, 11.1 apg and 2.7 steals per game. He is shooting a solid 49.0 percent from the field, including 36.3 percent from three-point range.