Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and the Sleeper Candidates for NBA MVP
We are now in the midst of the beginning of the NBA season and one thing is for sure:
There are a lot of talented players.
With talent comes great responsibility. A select few in NBA history have shown how to be great and dominate in a league where the team game is accented, but the individual reigns supreme.
It is easy to say who should be the favorite for the prestigious honor of Most Valuable Player. Names such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant (among others) have been worn out leading into the season.
It appears some exceptional talent is knocking on the MVP door, including Derrick Rose. Here is a look at some of the NBA's sleepers who might get a chance to rule the league and be voted the best in the game.
Derrick Rose-Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose has decided to step up to the plate.
Not only has D-Rose improved each of his first two seasons, but he has become the unquestioned leader of the much-improved Chicago Bulls.
Rose is expected to carry a huge load in terms of scoring and getting the most out of his teammates. This is especially true with free-agent acquisition Carlos Boozer out until at least Thanksgiving.
Do not be surprised to see No. 1 get a solid backing from voters if the Bulls top 50 wins, dominate the Central Division and claim wins against teams like Miami, Orlando and Boston. Each of those teams have legit chances at winning a ring this season and have MVP-worthy players.
Danny Granger-Indiana Pacers
Indiana's main threat has been a fantasy staple for a few years now. But with the Central Division being more open than in recent years, a solid, healthy showing from Granger could garner MVP votes.
The Pacers have a young and very unproven team that has been longing for Granger to lead them to bigger and better things. If he does so, it will be hard to not give him some consideration.
Pau Gasol-Los Angeles Lakers
Pau Gasol is arguably the best power forward in the Association today.
Pau Gasol is also missing his big insurance, Andrew Bynum, in the paint.
The second sentence is a yearly occurrence, which is bad for Bynum but great for Gasol. Yes, Kobe still rules the Lake Show. Yes, Kobe is the unquestioned leader.
Yes, Kobe is in trouble if Pau is not playing at an elite level.
Gasol has a chance to carry the Lakers in the paint and show why L.A. continues to be the best in the West.
In an interview following its win against Houston on opening night, Pau told Cheryl Miller of TNT that he knows his minutes will increase and knows that he has to be better than expected.
As long as Bynum is brittle, Gasol should get votes for being, at worst, the best player in the yellow paint at the Staples Center.
Tyreke Evans-Sacramento Kings
The 2009-10 Sacramento Kings were not very good. But they often played like a team with an extremely bright future, considering how strong the Western Conference has been.
If the Kings pull off a near-miracle and make the playoffs (yeah, it may be a stretch, but that is why it is a sleeper pick), Evans will be the biggest reason why.
Rajon Rondo-Boston Celtics
Boston may have its 'Big Three,' but Rajon Rondo is the glue that keeps them together.
Not only is he the man who gets the savvy veterans the ball, but he has clearly kept the old men like Kevin Garnett thinking of their youth. Do not be surprised if Rondo gets strong consideration if Boston is a top-two seed in the East.
Andrew Bogut-Milwaukee Bucks
Speaking of glue, Andrew Bogut is the glue that keeps the Bucks a major threat and glue is what he needs to stay on the court.
This team will live and die with him, and his quick return from injury this season could loom large going forward. Eighty-two (or at least 75) games with Bogut could earn him and Milwaukee some notoriety.
Joe Johnson-Atlanta Hawks
Get a top-three seed in the East.
Put up comparable numbers to Dwyane Wade (20-25 points, five rebounds, five-to-eight assists).
Do those three things and J.J. will be looked at for playing well on a team that looks exactly the same as last year, in a conference that got a facelift.
Brandon Roy-Portland Trailblazers
If there is a guy who has worse luck with injuries...
I guess that is the M.O. for the entire Blazers team. Regardless, Brandon Roy has the talent that could make him the best two-guard in the game. He is elusive, tough and lethal when given inches to work with.
Roy is an enigma as much as his team is, but if healthy, Roy will emerge as an MVP candidate. Get a top-four seed in the West, and it may be hard not to give him a healthy amount of votes.
Gerald Wallace-Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte's best player may be the best grinder in the game. Gerald Wallace has an amazing work ethic, passion for his team and the game, worked his way to stardom and covers the score-sheet in ways very few players can.
This is Charlotte coach Larry Brown's last go with the team, and another playoff-clinching season, albeit with a higher seed, could be in most part because of Wallace.
Blake Griffin-Los Angeles Clippers
This is a sleeper's sleeper.
If the Clippers get to the playoffs, it will be because Griffin ignites a franchise that has been as stale as year-old Halloween candy.
This candy has been stale for more than that. Blake Griffin can be a franchise changer and has a veteran mentor in Chris Kaman, who is no slouch himself.
Call this one a pipe dream, but there is something about Griffin that makes him special and has fans of the forgotten L.A. franchise brimming with hope.