NBA Playoffs 2013: Power Ranking Postseason MVP Candidates

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NBA Playoffs 2013: Power Ranking Postseason MVP Candidates
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The NBA playoffs have presented us with the most extraordinary action of the 2012-13 season. From awe-inspiring endings to the emergence of the some of the league's brightest new stars, there has been no shortage of thrills.

When it comes down to the top individual performers, however, we can't help but wonder—who is the postseason MVP?

Certain players have solidified their status as the top-tier performers in the league with clutch postseason outings. Others have made their leap to elite by going from a player with promise to one of legitimacy.

So who are the postseason MVP candidates?

 

5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Position: Point Guard

Age: 25

Experience: 4th Season

2013 Postseason Averages

41.4 MPG, 23.4 PPG, 8.1 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG

 

The Golden State Warriors may have been eliminated during the Western Conference semifinals, but Stephen Curry's name on this list is deserved. Not only is he this generation's greatest shooter, but Curry is also lethal off of the bounce.

The question is, which of his marvelous outings do we label as his signature performance?

During Game 2 of the Warriors' first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, Curry went off for 30 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and three steals on 13-of-23 shooting. In turn, Golden State became the first road team to win at Denver since Jan. 18, 2013.

Curry didn't stop there.

He scored 29 points and dished out 11 assists to lead a Game 3 win, only to follow with 31 points in a Game 4 victory. This was all the evidence that was needed to prove that Curry had become one of the league's premier scorers.

Oddly enough, his best performance came during a loss.

How can you lose a game like that?

Curry finished with 44 points and 11 rebounds on 51.4 percent shooting from the floor against the Spurs in Game 1 of Western Conference semifinals. Most impressive is the fact that Curry did this while playing the entire 58 minutes of a double-overtime thriller.

Curry made his leap to elite, and he thus deserves praise for doing so.

 

4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

Position: Center

Age: 37

Experience: 16th Season

2013 Postseason Averages

34.5 MPG, 17.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.8 BPG

 

The San Antonio Spurs have every reason to ride on Tony Parker's back, as he's proved capable of shouldering the load. With that being said, 37-year-old Tim Duncan has been sensational throughout the course of the postseason.

And no, it's not just because of how old he is.

More times than not, people attempt to add a backhanded compliment when crediting an aging player. In the case of Duncan, however, he's been the best big man in basketball throughout the course of the 2012-13 season.

There's not much separating him from that honor during the playoffs, either.

Forget about the age, for a second—that's just a flat out amazing performance.

Offensively, Duncan has continued to craft his way around the basket, finishing with either hand and even putting the ball on the floor. Defensively, Duncan's ability to crash the boards and protect the rim are major reasons that the Spurs are in the NBA Finals.

Keep in mind, Game 1 was the second time in three games that Duncan posted 20 points, 10 rebounds and at least two blocks.

Barring a continuation of Game 1 and the subtraction of Tony Parker, Duncan likely won't be the Spur to win the NBA Finals MVP award in the case of a victory. The truth of the matter is, Duncan and the Spurs are more focused on winning a title than individual accolades.

They're three wins away from achieving that feat, and Duncan is a primary reason why.

 

3. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers

Position: Center

Age: 26

Experience: 5th Season

2013 Postseason Averages

36.5 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.9 BPG

 

The Indiana Pacers made an incredible run through the 2012-13 NBA playoffs, taking down the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks before falling to the Miami Heat in seven games. While Paul George may garner the headlines, another player emerged as the cornerstone to their success.

All-Star center Roy Hibbert.

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Hibbert was dominant on both ends of the floor, using his size and power to overmatch any opponent. That's been clear against the likes of Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler and Al Horford.

One series at a time, Hibbert has imposed his will.

It started slow against the Hawks, but Hibbert finished the series strong with 17 points and 11 rebounds in a clinching Game 6. This set the stage for the Eastern Conference semifinals, where Hibbert averaged 13.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks en route to a win over the Knicks.

And then came Miami.

Hibbert was the best player not named LeBron James, defending the rim at an elite level and impacting every phase of the game. He finished the series with averages of 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds on 55.7 percent shooting from the floor.

He went for 20 points in five of those seven games and tallied 20 and 10 in four.

Hibbert and the Pacers may have been eliminated, but that doesn't take away from his quality of postseason play. While some expected his fellow stars to shine, it's been Hibbert that has made the leap.

Suddenly, there are those wondering if Hibbert is the best center in the NBA.

 

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

Position: Small Forward

Age: 28

Experience: 10th Season

2013 Postseason Averages

41.2 MPG, 25.7 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.5 SPG

 

What more can you say about LeBron James?

When it comes right down to it, the Miami Heat would not be in the NBA Finals if not for LeBron. This isn't another hyperbolic statement that holds little weight, but instead an acknowledgement of how badly the woes of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have hurt Miami.

Against the Indiana Pacers, LeBron took it upon himself to average 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals was one of the most impressive individual performances we've ever seen. James finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but also made the game-winning buzzer-beater in overtime.

Had he missed that shot, we might be talking about a Pacers-Spurs series.

There's no question that LeBron is the best in the world, which will thus result in those wondering how he isn't the postseason MVP. Unfortunately, James' best efforts in Game 1 of the NBA Finals thrust another man's abilities into the spotlight.

Miami lost 92-88, but LeBron went for 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists—that all but compensates for a poor shooting performance. 

When it comes down to it, there's no way to be wrong if you hand LeBron the MVP award at any stage of the season. After all, he's the most dominant player in the world and possesses one of the most well-rounded skill sets in NBA history.

Just one man rests above him in this year's postseason.

 

1. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

Position: Point Guard

Age: 31

Experience: 12th Season

2013 Postseason Averages

37.2 MPG, 22.9 PPG, 7.1 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG

 

Stop me if you've heard this before, but Tony Parker continues to prove the naysayers wrong and carve out his legacy as a surefire Hall of Fame point guard.

Parker struggled for most of Game 1 against the Miami Heat, but he bounced back by dominating the fourth quarter and draining a key bank shot late in the fourth quarter. In turn, he finished with 21 points and six assists.

LeBron James' numbers may be sensational, but Parker has been the MVP of the 2013 NBA playoffs.

Parker has led the Spurs to victories in 13 of their past 15 postseason games, including a sweep of the red hot Memphis Grizzlies. Parker also weathered the storm known as Stephen Curry and put up one of the greatest scoring performances in recent memory.

In a series-clinching Game 4 win, Parker sliced-and-diced Memphis' elite defense for 37 points on 15-of-21 shooting.

According to Basketball-Reference, Parker became the first point guard to score 35 points on 70.0 percent shooting in a postseason game since 2009—when Parker did it against the Dallas Mavericks.

That's what you call elite.

LeBron may be the best player in the world, but the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 NBA playoffs has been Parker. Whether he's scoring 37 points or dishing out 18 assists, Parker finds a way to make everyone around him better.

Even when the statistics aren't flashy, Parker steps up with a clutch performance worth marveling.

Miami will do everything they can to stop him, but this isn't Parker's first rodeo—he's a three-time NBA champion and former Finals MVP.

On the brink of yet another title, Parker is showing no signs of slowing down. He's masking the flaws of his teammates and maximizing their strengths, thus leading to victories and their current series edge.

If everything continues in this manner, Parker may just be a two-time Finals MVP.

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