Can LeBron claim the award for a third straight year?
Before the season started, I posted this article predicting the MVP race for this season. However, now that every team has played 32-35 games, I think I have a good enough sample size to re-evaluate how the race is going.
In my previous article, I narrowed down the race to five players: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant. With the way the season has played out so far, I am going to have to expand to ten players to show how open the race for the award really is. (Note: the following are not in any particular order)
LeBron James, Miami Heat
In my preseason predictions, I had James flirting with a triple-double average. He hasn't quite lived up to that, even though his point total is higher than I thought it would be. However, he still has a very impressive stat line, which is helped by the fact that the Heat are 28-9. With the way Miami is starting to play as a team, don't be surprised if LeBron starts to rack up more triple-doubles.
Stat Line: 24.8 pts, 6.8 rebs, 7.3 asts, 26.02 PER
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
I thought Durant would take the next step this year, but that's kind of hard considering he was standing on a pretty good one to start with. Currently the scoring leader, KD should stay near the top of the MVP standings as long as he continues to produce and helps OKC build on its 23-13 record. However, with the emergence of Russell Westbrook, Durant may have opportunities taken away from him.
Stat Line: 27.9 pts, 6.3 rebs, 3 asts, 23.61 PER
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Dirk has been producing very consistently for the last decade now and always seems to be under the radar at the start of the season. While his stats are practically the same as last year, Dirk is helped by the fact that the Mavs stormed out of the gate this season and have a 26-8 record, with three of those losses being games that Nowitzki missed. It should be interesting to see how Dirk takes the lay off, as he hasn't missed this many games in a row in almost his entire career.
Stat Line: 24.1 pts, 7.4 rebs, 2.4 asts, 24.97 PER
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Howard currently has the been closest to what I predicted in the summer, which is good for him because I had him finishing third. Though the Magic went through massive changes a couple of weeks ago with the trades, they are still playing extremely well. Orlando may be a 22-12 right now, but watch out with how they have been playing recently. Dwight's post skills are still developing, so he may be the biggest wild card in the MVP race if he starts to put all of it together mid-season.
Stat Line: 21.2 pts, 13.2 rebs, 2.4 blks, 24.3 PER
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
In his 15th year in the NBA, Kobe is still putting up amazing numbers, though they have dropped a bit from last year. However, Pau Gasol is making up for that difference with the stellar year he is having in the LA frontcourt. Though they have hit a recent slump and do not have the best record in the West (24-11), I still think the Lakers are the most dangerous team in the conference come playoff time.
Stat Line: 25.2 pts, 4.9 rebs, 4.5 asts, 23.96 PER
Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks
When I was putting my predictions together in the preseason, I really did not consider Amare as much as I probably should have. The Knicks are having their best season in a decade and all of that is thanks to the play of Stoudemire. New York still has a few kinks to work out before they jump to the next level, but a 20-14 record in the same division as Boston is pretty respectable.
Stat Line: 26.4 pts, 9 rebs, 2.3 blks, 23.88 PER
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Though he may not win the MVP award, Westbrook clearly looks like the most improved player in the NBA. He may be a bit under the radar by playing on the same team as KD, but he still finds ways to fill up the stat sheet impressively. As stated earlier, OKC sits at 23-13, but I still think they may be a darkhorse going into the playoffs.
Stat Line: 22.1 pts, 4.9 rebs, 7.9 asts, 23.52 PER
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Wade started off the season with injury problems and his stats were affected by it. (Remember that 1-13 game?) However, over the last five games, he is averaging a cool 35 point per and looks to be back on top of his game. The Heat are 28-9, but Wade's place in the MVP standings will be affected by LeBron's game as well. Gauging with where he stands will be a little more difficult than most of the other candidates.
Stat Line: 25 pts, 6.5 rebs, 4.2 asts, 26.20 PER
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Rose has cemented himself as one of the top point guards in the league this year with the way he has played. Thanks to him, Chicago has one of the best records in the East at 23-10. Once Joakim Noah get back, D-Rose can really start to become one of the top candidates if the Bulls records continues to improve.
Stat Line: 23.8 pts, 4.6 rebs, 8.5 asts, 22.54 PER
Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
Another point guard playing on a slightly overlooked team, Williams continues to impress people with his play. Though he is well known for his high assist numbers, I think people have a tendency to forget about his improving scoring skills. If Utah (24-11) can keep up with the other powers in the West, Williams should get large consideration for the league's top individual honor.
Stat Line: 22.2 pts, 3.8 rebs, 9.3 asts, 23.83 PER
Now, how do I rank all of the candidates? First, let me start off with my method. While statistics and PER play a large role in how I rank players, I also look at a team's record and how much attention a player gets in the media. For example, LeBron, Wade, and Kobe are going to have a better chance at winning the award than Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook because of the huge amount of attention they get from the news outlets. (I'm looking at you, ESPN) So, without further comments, here is how I rank the players so far this season.
1. LeBron James
Who do you think is going to be the MVP?
2. Dwight Howard
3. Amare Stoudemire
4. Kevin Durant
5. Dirk Nowitzki
6. Kobe Bryant
7. Derrick Rose
8. Dwyane Wade
9. Deron Williams
10. Russell Westbrook
Thank you for the read. Please feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section.