NBA MVP 2012: Breaking Down Top Candidates for Prestigious Award

Alex KayCorrespondent IMay 2, 2012

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 30:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts to being fouled during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks at American Airlines Arena on April 30, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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The 2012 NBA MVP race is already over. There was one player that distanced himself far ahead of the pack and put forth one of his finest seasons in an already well-decorated career.

I’m sure you have more than a good idea of who that superstar is, but we’ll keep it suspenseful and reveal it at the end.

Without further ado, here are the top MVP candidates from the 2011-12 season in reverse order.

Honorable Mentions: Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 12:  Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts after hitting a three point shot past Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 12, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Timberwolves defeated
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Love definitely deserves some credit for—along with Ricky Rubio—helping turn the Timberwolves into a respectable team. Unfortunately, things went south after the rookie PG went down for the year and the franchise decided to shut the PF down and tank.

Rondo weathered incessant trade chatter from the offseason up until the deadline and still managed to string together a hell of a campaign. He led the league in assists and revitalized the Celtics in the second half of the season, but their record wasn’t good enough to warrant true consideration for the young star. His time will come eventually.

5. Tony Parker

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 29:  (L-R) Gregg Popovich  and Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs talk during play against the Utah Jazz in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 29, 2012 in San Anto
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The San Antonio Spurs tied with the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the NBA. A lot of that credit goes to Gregg Popovich—who just won the Coach of the Year award for his efforts—but Parker had a sneaky great outing.

In 60 games, the French floor general averaged 18.3 PPG, 7.7 APG, 2.9 RPG and 1.0 SPG while shooting 48 percent from the field.

He was the motor that kept the Spurs chugging along this season, even when they were resting key players like Tim Duncan and dealing with injuries to Manu Ginobili.

4. Kobe Bryant

The Black Mamba spent a lot of offseason time in Germany receiving experimental treatments for mounting knee injuries, he suffered a torn ligament in his wrist early in the year, had his nose broke during the All-Star game and still kept plugging along.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers adjusts his protective face mask during the game with the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on March 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.   The Lakers won 115-107. NOTE TO USER: User e
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

He didn’t miss an extended stretch of games until a shin injury sidelined him towards the end of the campaign.

Despite the fact that some ailment or another hindered Kobe for most of the Lakers' season, Kobe averaged an extremely impressive 27.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.6 APG and 1.2 SPG while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 30.3 percent from deep.

The 33-year-old, 16-year NBA veteran deserves MVP credit for keeping the Lakers in contention despite his age and uphill battles.

3. Chris Paul

CP3 revitalized the Los Angeles Clippers after offseason trade drama that nearly had him going to the Lakers before the league vetoed the deal.

The Clips wisely sacrificed a ton of young parts to acquire the proven pure point guard and have been rewarded handsomely for their risk.

DENVER, CO - APRIL 18:  Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets looses control of the ball against Chris Paul #3 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Pepsi Center on April 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Clippers defeated the Nuggets 104-98.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Paul instantly clicked with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the rest of the roster, aptly earning the nickname of “Lob City.”

His individual numbers aren’t that outstanding—19.8 PPG, 9.1 APG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 SPG while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 37.1 from beyond the arc—but the way he changed the culture for his new team is remarkable.

The Clippers won just 32 games in 2010-11 and have not made the postseason since 2006. CP3 led them to 40 wins in a strike-shortened season and makes them true contenders for a championship.

For doing that, the prolific passing point guard wins the bronze MVP medal (if there were one to give out).

Runner-Up: Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City’s superstar swingman won his third scoring title in a row. That is a feat that has not been accomplished since Michael Jordan did it from 1996-1998.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 30:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks across court after the win against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2012 at the Chesapeake Ene
Brett Deering/Getty Images

Durant accomplished this by putting up 28.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG and 1.2 BPG while shooting a whopping 49.6 percent from the field and 38.7 from three-point land. He did not miss a single game.

KD was the leader on a team that won 47 games and earned a No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

If it weren’t for this next guy, KD35 was without a doubt bound to win his first of potentially many MVP awards.

Winner: LeBron James

No one had a finer 2011-12 season than King James.  The two-time NBA MVP is definitely adding a third piece of hardware to his mantle when they announce this year’s winner.

LBJ averaged 27.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG. He put up those ludicrous numbers while nailing 53.1 percent of attempts from the field and 36.2 percent from deep.

James didn’t miss a single game during the season and averaged 37.5 minutes for a team that needed him on the floor as much as possible due to their lack of depth.

It would be absolutely inane for LeBron not to garner his historic third MVP award after what he accomplished this season.


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