Top 10 MVP Candidates for the 2011-2012 Season

Daniel Christian@@dchris_hawksCorrespondent IIIJuly 28, 2011

Top 10 MVP Candidates for the 2011-2012 Season

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    Two years ago, it seemed as if LeBron James had a pigeon hold on the MVP award. It wasn't crazy to think he'd claim three or four in a row, but his move down to South Beach did not come without scrutiny and did not come without criticism.

    James, by all accounts, is the world's best player. He's the most complete and versatile player we've seen since Magic Johnson, and when it's all said and done, he'll probably be the best small forward ever to play the game.

    However, the same person can't rack up the accolades every year, just ask Charles Barkley who snagged one from His Airness, Michael Jordan. The best player doesn't always win. Why? Because there are so many more things that need to be accounted for in MVP voting: public opinion, improvement, character and the list goes on.

    This list is not a ranking of the top 10 players in the NBA,  but a list of who has the best chance at catching the perfect storm for the MVP award. 

Honorable Mentions

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    Deron Williams: New Jersey Nets 

    Williams will be charged with the task of resurrecting the absolutely deceased New Jersey Nets. "Deceased" might be a little harsh as the franchise regained a pulse ever since Prokhorov took over, as he has the cajones to make bold, audacious moves.

    Williams assist totals jumped to roughly 13 a game in his short stint in New Jersey last season, which is quite impressive. Fifteen points per game isn't too shabby either.

    Williams is the definition of a true point guard, and he's a superstar to boot. He's just what New Jersey needs to build around, and you can bet the farm the Nets will be better this coming season, but they won't be nearly good enough to give their star a legitimate case for MVP.

    LaMarcus Aldridge: Portland Trail Blazers

    The Trail Blazer staked his claim as the team's leader last season and was unfathomably not selected for the All-Star game. He grew leaps and bounds, establishing himself as one of the premier players in the Western Conference.

    That being said, he has a long way to go to be considered on par with the players on this list, but his future is bright, and if Portland produces a serious amount of wins, Aldridge just might turn some heads and get some attention.

10. Carmelo Anthony: New York Knicks

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    Carmelo Anthony is clearly one of the most gifted scorers in the NBA. He's crafty around the hoop and has a killer fade away.

    His arsenal is loaded with some of the best moves around the hoop that I've seen, especially for a 3/4 cross. 

    However, his chances of winning an MVP award next season are slim to none. He may be the best scorer on his team, but make no mistake, it's Amare Stoudemire's team. He brought relevance back to the Big Apple; Anthony only chipped in later, bringing back the hometown hero.

    The fans of New York may always have an ongoing fling with Carmelo Anthony, but this team will go as far as Stoudemire takes them, which is why Anthony sinks to No. 10 on this list, that, and his defensive limitations.

9. Dirk Nowitzki: Dallas Mavericks

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    Dirk Nowitzki, the Golden Boy who dethroned King James in the NBA Finals, is enjoying his finest moment in his entire career. He led gutsy comeback after gutsy comeback throughout an incredibly tough postseason schedule and finally shed his label as a soft, not clutch big man.

    Realistically Dirk's playoff run was other worldly, but he won't garner much MVP attention this year, much like last year.

    The Finals MVP is content to watch the young guns of the league compete for personal accolades while he saves his energy for another championship run. 

8. Kobe Bryant: Los Angeles Lakers

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    Kobe's reputation speaks for itself. He's already cemented himself as an NBA legend, and he boasts a fistful of rings.

    Still, Kobe Bryant, much like Dirk, won't garner too much MVP attention. His numbers will most likely dip as father time grabs a hold of everyone. However, the competitive flame inside of Kobe will never cease.

    His name will always surface in MVP talks based off legacy alone, but if he's serious about chasing a sixth title, he can't wear himself down in the long-and-grueling regular season (of course we just might get a 50-game season, so who knows?).

7. Derrick Rose: Chicago Bulls

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    No, that is not a misprint. Derrick Rose, the reigning MVP, is No. 7. Not No. 2, not No. 3, not No.4, but No 7. 

    Rose did an excellent job leading a young Bulls team to the best record in the NBA last season, but it was widely known he actually wasn't the league's best player. He was just the best story, and that's why he won.

    However, now that we're all expecting Rose and the Bulls to chalk up over 60 wins, he's lost some of his luster. His stellar play caught so many people off guard, but now that we all know what to expect, the chances of him repeating as league MVP are not looking so hot.

    Still, you can wager your mortgage on another incredible season from Rose, one filled with awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping highlights and one filled with him taking north of 25 shots per game.

6. Amare Stoudemire: New York Knicks

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    The leader of the New York Knicks is an absolute offensive tycoon, much like his superstar teammate, Carmelo Anthony.

    He garnered much attention at the beginning of last season in early MVP discussions, but as the Knicks leveled out, so did the Amar'e for MVP argument. 

    Next season, Anthony and Stoudemire will have hopefully worked out all the kinks that resonated offensively last season when they first joined forces.

    If Stoudemire leads the Knicks to new heights and gives them the look of a serious playoff contender, his name just might catch some wind in MVP talks.

5. Chris Paul: New Orleans Hornets

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    When Chris Paul is healthy, he is nearly unstoppable.

    He's the purest point guard we've seen since Isiah Thomas, and he's one of the headiest playmakers you'll find. His passes are spot on, he keeps his dribble on a string. He is the best pure point guard we have in today's league.

    If he can turn the Hornets (practically him and the Goonies) into a legitimate playoff team, people might just start talking about how truly valuable he is. His performance against the Lakers this postseason was inspiring, and it shows just why the playoffs are so great.

    Chris Paul led a group of misfits against the defending champions and gave them a run for their money. If he can do that throughout a whole regular season (clearly he can, but can he stay healthy?), he just might run away with this MVP race.

4. Dwyane Wade: Miami Heat

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    Dwyane Wade is the best shooting guard currently in the NBA. Legacy wise? No, but in terms of playing ability? Yes, sorry Kobe fans.

    Wade is ultra quick up and down the floor and is as bouncy as you can be. I've seen few people get up in the air as quickly and as high as he does. He's a genius in transition and is a relentless attacker. His jump shot remains unpolished and a work in progress, but watching Wade go is a sight for sore eyes.

    His activity level is amazing. He's all over the court, stealing, blocking, dunking, you name it. He may gamble a little too often defensively, but nevertheless, his defensive prowess is one feared throughout the league.

    The combination of him and LeBron James will tear the league apart in years to come, and it's not outlandish to think both Wade and James will both take an MVP trophy home in the next four or so years.

3. Kevin Durant: Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Yes, everyone's MVP favorite, the so called "anti-LeBron."

    The lanky forward is the best scorer in the game today as he posses several different skill sets. He can work both inside and out, he can drive and spot up and he is going to win the scoring title for the next three or four years at least.

    He's an absolute beast, and many think of him as the MVP front-runner for this upcoming season, and that's because in the public's eye, he represents everything LeBron doesn't: he's loyal, selfless and humble.

    Much of the talk I feel is predicated on people wanting LeBron James to lose the MVP to someone more deserving on a personal level, not on a basketball level. Because realistically, however good and dominant Durant is, LeBron James is leaps and bounds better in nearly every single facet of the game.

    Still, Durant will receive much attention and may just take the award home. Reporters want a good story, and as the case was with Rose, this could be the year when the Thunder truly break through, dominate the regular season and look towards the playoffs.

    If that happens, voters just might be swayed, if they aren't already. 

2. LeBron James: Miami Heat

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    He's nigh unstoppable. He's a freight train, a 6'8", 260-plus physically conditioned monster who is the most relentless on ball defender the NBA has seen since Scottie Pippen, and he just might be the best wing defender of all time. He's quick, fast, and has the leaping ability of Superman on steroids.

    Clearly though, he has some issues. After some of the best clutch work I've seen in my life against both Chicago and Boston, LeBron had a meltdown in the NBA Finals, underperforming severely. While much of it can be attributed to Shawn Marion and the Dallas zone, a lot of it has to do with LeBron's passivity.

    My guess is LeBron will do just what he did last season, this season: be brilliant. He's the smartest player I've seen play since Magic Johnson. He has some issues to work out, but he's clearly the best player in our league.

    This isn't ranking the NBA's best players, this is ranking the candidates for the MVP award next season, so realistically, LeBron James gets put here at number 2.

    The voters won't allow it, they've made up there mind he's a narcissistic, choking superstar. Coming off that finals performance didn't help his label, whether it can be justified or not. 

    Unless LeBron comes out with one of the greatest seasons (again, if there is a season) in NBA history, spitting venom at every hater with sheer basketball brilliance, he won't win the award. 

1. Dwight Howard: Orlando Magic

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    In terms of sheer value, Dwight Howard is the most irreplaceable player in the NBA. There are literally no other completely and utterly dominant centers in today's game aside from Howard.

    The athleticism he possesses at his size is nearly unheard of.

    My goodness, have you seen his shoulders? He's easily the most intimidating physical force the league has seen since Shaq.

    He literally shouldered the entire Orlando roster in the Hawks series in a way I haven't seen since LeBron shouldered the Cavaliers in 2007. He put up absolute gaudy numbers every night. He gave his all through frustration and the sheer annoyance of defensive pests Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins, but yet, he received close to no help from his teammates.

    The award does say most valuable player, and he is the only player who, if lost, cannot even be halfway replaced.