Will the Real NBA MVP Please Stand Up?
Dwyane Wade. Kobe Bryant. LeBron James. Chris Paul. Dwight Howard.
Those are the possibilities for MVP. There is no clear-cut winner and all five are having tremendous seasons. You could present a reasonable argument for all of them that could show why they deserve the Most Valuable Player Award.
Dwyane Wade, Heat: A year after the Heat finished 15-67, Wade, with help from Michael Beasley, has led the Heat to 15-12. Wade leads the NBA in scoring, averaging 29.0 points per game along with 7.0 assists per contests, and 5.2 rebounds.
Wade has shown what he can do when healthy and it's obvious he got some help from the Olympics. In a 120-115 loss to the New York Knicks, Wade scored 26 points on 9-24 shooting, and also had nine assists and seven rebounds. Wade deserves it not just because of individual performance, but because of leadership.
These are the Miami Heat who won 15 games last year and have won 15 games this year. But this time, it's 15 wins in 27 tries, not 82.
He is still one of the best assist men in basketball. One could argue he doesn't deserve the award because of his low free throw and three-point percentages (77.3 percent on free throws and just 25 percent on three-pointers) make a very good argument.
But to argue that, all you have to do is point to his 48.2 field goal percentage, 29 points per game, seven assists per contest, and five rebounds. You could also point at his newfound leadership.
Kobe Bryant, Lakers: Tonight, Kobe Bryant proved why he is worthy of a second consecutive MVP award. Last year in the NBA Finals, the MVP struggled against the Boston Celtics in a 4-2 series loss. He rebounded tonight, leading his 24-5 Lakers over the 27-3 Boston Celtics, 92-83, on Christmas night.
He made 13-23 shots for 27 points along with nine rebounds, and five assists against the second best defense in the NBA.
Bryant doesn't quite have the stats he had last year (28.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 5.4 APG), but is still having a solid year, averaging 26.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists a game. His stats are down because his Lakers are better overall and he doesn't need to do AS much.
The one advantage Kobe does have over the candidates is history. Kobe is always in the conversation for MVP and has the experience to carry these Lakers to an NBA Championship. I think he will. But who am I to say that?
He does have a higher free throw percentage then Wade (86.2 percent) and a higher three-point percentage (31.9 percent). One could argue that his shooting has slipped. He had games in which he went 5-17, 12-30, 7-18, 9-24, 9-25, and 5-15. Again, the stats don't lie.
LeBron James, Cavaliers: Cavaliers’ superstar LeBron James has had another amazing season. He is averaging 27.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. Not only are his stats jaw-dropping, he has led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 24-4 start, best in franchise history.
The 2003 first overall pick has been dominant all year and hasn't slipped up. In a 99-90 win over the Rockets on Tuesday, LeBron shot 11-23, scored 27 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished five assists.
On top of the offensive accomplishments, LeBron is at his peak defensively. He averages two steals per game, fifth only to Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Rajon Rondo, and Dwyane Wade.
LeBron has done an AMAZING job carrying the team. The rest of the starters aren't all-stars: point guard Mo Williams, shooting guard Delonte West, power forward Ben Wallace and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I wish I could think of something to use against him, but I just can't.
Chris Paul, Hornets: My favorite player to watch is Hornets’ point guard Chris Paul. He runs the point with such maturity, it's hard to believe he ever played in a kid league. He averages 20.2 points, 11.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and a league-leading 3.2 steals per game. That's not a misprint. Today, for the first time this year, he didn't get a steal.
His Hornets are 16-9, one game behind the Spurs and Rockets for the Western Conference Southwest Division. They are 12-5 within the conference, much due to the play of Paul.
His shooting has gotten better, improving from 49 percent to 51 percent, much improved from 43 percent in 2006.
One thing Chris Paul haters could say: his turnovers are up. Last year he averaged 2.5 turnovers per game. This year, he averages three. Now 0.5 turnovers don't seem like a difference, but it is.
However, Paul has improved in almost every major category: assists, steals, free throw percentage, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and rebounds. Whoa.
Dwight Howard, Magic: Superman. Dwight Howard. The dunk contest. Dwight Howard is one of the most dynamic players in any sport. He's averaging 20.3 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. Almost every contest, he's bound to score 20 points and grab ten boards. It's almost a given.
His scoring is starting to slump lately, though. He has scored just 14, 18, and 11 in his last three games, but his lack of involvement scoring-wise is due to the fact that he didn't play the previous two and the coaches wanted to play low-risk. He was still grabbing boards, though with 13, 12, and 11 in those games.
Some could argue his scoring is down. Last year, he averaged 21 points per game and his scoring is tailing off as the season progresses, as I stated earlier. He is also at 57 percent from the free throw line. But my question is: what 6'11" center isn't shooting in the 50-60 percent from the line range?
Also, you can't deny Howard has that impact on a game on the boards. The guy even had three games where he grabbed 20 rebounds or more! He also has a solid 56.3 field goal percentage.
So NBA fans: who will it be?
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