Updated NBA MVP Odds at Unoffical Midpoint of the 2012-13 Season

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIJanuary 22, 2013

Updated NBA MVP Odds at Unoffical Midpoint of the 2012-13 Season

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    Updated MVP odds at the unofficial midpoint of the 2012-13 NBA season were driven by two primary criteria: individual player efficiency and team winning percentage.

    Scoring numbers, assist totals and rebounding were also factors.

    Ultimately, though, the player who is the most efficient while leading his team to the highest total of wins will walk away with the 2012-13 NBA MVP Award.

    These updated odds reflect which players have the best chance of winning that award by season's end.

    They are ranked according to how well they have already played this season and also according to their projected performance in the second half of the year.

    More of an emphasis, however, was placed on what each player and his respective team has done so far.

    Additionally, a poor team record—like the one held by the Los Angeles Lakers—only works to diminish the odds of any Lakers player winning the MVP, no matter how well he might be playing individually.

    Conversely, the Oklahoma City Thunder's excellent record only helps the chances of guys like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

    Read on for the top 10 MVP candidates at the midpoint of the 2012-13 NBA season.


    *Stats are accurate as of Jan. 21, 2013

10. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

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    It's possible that Dr. Emmett Brown may have dropped Tim Duncan off for training camp this season.

    At 36 years old, Duncan has been channeling his inner Timmy for the San Antonio Spurs through the first half of the year.

    In leading his Spurs to the third-best record in the NBA, Duncan has averaged 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting 50.5 percent from the field, as of Monday. 

    Defensively, the 2.7 blocks that Duncan averages are his highest total since 2004.

    Maybe he took the All-Star snub last season personally, maybe he came back even hungrier after falling short in the Western Conference finals or maybe he just wanted to prove that he could still do it.

    Whatever the case, Duncan is back to playing like he never left this season, and he will earn MVP consideration because of it.

9. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Zach Randolph leads the NBA in double-doubles with 26 through Monday.

    He's averaging a double-double on the season, with 16.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, while also leading his Memphis Grizzlies to the fifth-best record in the NBA.

    Randolph's rebound average is second in the NBA, and he's collected more than 15 rebounds in a game six times this season.

    The Grizzlies have been up and down this year, but Randolph has been consistent throughout.

    If the Grizzlies do not make a trade and keep their current core of Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and Randolph intact, then Z-Bo could warrant serious MVP consideration by season's end.

8. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Instead of boring you with adjectives to describe the Los Angeles Lakers this season, I'll simply mention that their record is 17-24.

    I'll only add that they're 15 games out of first place in the Western Conference and four games out of the eighth spot.

    There is no real reason to believe that they'll mount a significant charge in the second half of the season at this point either.

    This season, the Lakers have been especially awful on defense, and Kobe Bryant has not helped on that end of the floor.

    He may be frustrated or trying to send a message as he picks up point guards all over the court, but that has only left his defense out of position behind him.

    In saying all of that, however, the way that he's scored the basketball this season must be respected.

    The 29.2 points that Bryant is averaging ranks second in the NBA, even while every team has known, full well, that Bryant will shooting the basketball every time down the court.

    If he could trade records with the crosstown Clippers, Bryant might be third on this list. Yet he cannot, and that is why he is ranked at No. 8.

7. David Lee, Golden State Warriors

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    Someone deserves MVP consideration for what's happening with the Golden State Warriors this season.

    David Lee is that guy.

    He's recorded the second-most double-doubles this season with 25 of them in the 39 games that he has played. Lee also ranks seventh overall in rebounding and 11th in scoring.

    His Warriors team is fifth in the Western Conference and has the NBA's seventh-best record overall through Monday.

    Along with head coach Mark Jackson, Lee has been a major reason why the culture of losing has changed for the better in Golden State this season.

    At 19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, his name will remain in the MVP discussion as this season continues.

6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    If Kevin Durant wasn't going for 50 points every night, we might be paying more attention to Russell Westbrook.

    Westbrook has scored 30 points or more in each of his last four games.

    For the month of January, he's averaged 26.9 points while also improving his field-goal percentage from the previous month.

    In addition to the scoring that we've come to expect from Westbrook, he's also emerged as a premier playmaker this season as well.

    The 8.3 assists that Westbrook is averaging currently rank fifth in the NBA.

    He certainly takes his share of questionable shots—Westbrook is 1-of-10 from three-point range in the last two games, for example—but he's proven that he can help the Oklahoma City Thunder win big.

    Westbrook is the second-best overall athlete in the NBA, behind only LeBron James, and is quietly increasing his odds of winning the MVP.

    He won't actually beat out his teammate for the award this season, but he will finish higher than most people think.

5. James Harden, Houston Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets have won only three of their last 10 games through Monday. 

    At the moment, though, they're still a playoff team in the Western Conference, and franchise player James Harden is the biggest reason for that overall success this season.

    While he scored less than 20 points for the first time since December 4 last week, Harden is still averaging 25.4 points in the month of January.

    On the season, his scoring average of 25.9 is good for fifth in the NBA.

    More than what Harden has done so far, though, is what he could do moving forward in the second half. 

    His explosive start from day one in Houston has almost overshadowed the fact that this is still a new team for Harden. Typically, to some degree, there's a learning curve—but this apparently was not the case.

    The more comfortable Harden becomes, the more potent he could be as the season moves on.

4. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    Since serving his one-game suspension on January 10, Carmelo Anthony has averaged 30.2 points in the last four games for the New York Knicks.

    He's also ended his spiritual fast and is back to eating like he always did.

    Those are positives for the Knicks.

    The only negative is that they've gone just 2-2 in those last four games.

    The Knicks currently hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference through Monday, though, and it's hard to blame Anthony too much for any of their struggles this season.

    He is tied for second overall in scoring at 29.2 points per night and also ranks fourth in player efficiency through Monday.

    Some of the things that Anthony does will make you scratch your head; I'll give you that.

    But he's also led the Knicks to a record that nobody expected they'd have by the All-Star break this season. He deserves credit for that this season, along with the individual numbers.

3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Los Angeles Clippers acquired Chris Paul before last season and then became an elite NBA team for the first time in all of eternity.

    The recent success of the Clippers can basically be summarized by that sentence alone.

    Behind Paul's supreme talent and leadership, the Clippers have amassed the second-best record in the NBA through Monday.

    Blake Griffin is better than he was a season ago, the bench is deeper and the team is playing with more cohesion.

    But it's Paul who makes this group a threat to win the NBA championship.

    He is currently the third-most efficient player in the NBA while also spearheading the Clippers' defensive efforts by leading the league in steals.

    Paul is scoring 16.6 points per night while also ranking second overall in assists at 9.7 through Monday.

    He might need some time to get right after missing three games last week, but by season's end, he will be a threat to win the 2012-13 MVP.

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    LeBron James is the most efficient player in the NBA right now for the sixth consecutive season. 

    He also ranks fourth in the league in scoring, 10th in assists and 25th in rebounding through Monday.

    In most years, that would be enough to win the MVP.

    But in a season where the award would represent the fourth MVP in James' career, his team is going to be required to win more than it has so far—especially considering how his BFF in Oklahoma City has been playing so far.

    In order for James to win the MVP award for 2012-13, the Miami Heat would need to finish the regular season with at least the second-best record in the NBA, in my estimation.

    At the moment, they currently own the fourth-best record, behind three teams from the Western Conference.

    The winning percentage on the road needs to improve from the pedestrian 10-9 mark that it is at right now, and the Heat need to start resembling the team from last season more often.

    As much as James has excelled individually, a team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is held to a higher standard. They will need to win big if James is going to top the MVP rankings by season's end.

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Kevin Durant is on a grown man's tear right now.

    During 11 games in the month of January, Durant is averaging 32.3 points per night.

    He just hung 52 on the Dallas Mavericks this past Friday, and he has scored at least 25 points or more nine times this month.

    Durant is leading the NBA in scoring with 29.5 points per game on the season, but it has been about much more than just getting buckets for K.D.

    He's putting highlight-reel plays together in the process—as Marcin Gortat would attest—while also playing an efficient brand of winning basketball.

    Durant's 4.2 assists per game are a career high. He's also collecting 7.5 rebounds per night while grading out second in the league in terms of player efficiency rating.

    He is doing all of this while also shooting 51.6 percent from the floor, 40.4 percent from three and 90.9 from the free throw line.

    Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder currently hold the best record in the NBA because of all that and appear to be the class of the league.