Amar'e Stoudemire: Where Does He Stand in the NBA Most Valuable Player Race?

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2011

Amar'e Stoudemire: Where Does He Stand in the NBA Most Valuable Player Race?

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24: Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks lays the ball up against Trevor Booker #35 of the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on January 24, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    We have reached the point in the 2010-2011 NBA season when awards are beginning to enter the discussion.
     
    The season has about 30 games left, and the MVP race has 10 legitimate candidates. There are more candidates for the award than any year in recent memory.
     
    The list is an interesting mix of young guys and old, wily veterans. The race is tight, and the competition is only heating up.

    Amar'e Stoudemire has played at a extremely high level for the entire season and has quickly become the king of New York. He ranks among the league leaders in multiple categories, and his team is looking like it is playoff-bound. He is doing all of this with a mediocre supporting cast.

    But is he currently the leader of the pack?

    Let’s take a look at the top 10 candidates for MVP as we speak.

10. Deron Williams, Utah Jazz

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 29, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.   The Jazz won 103-85.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The award is called “Most Valuable Player,” and Williams is everything for the Jazz. He has a sore wrist that caused him to miss four games, and Jazz nation is terrified.
     
    Williams' top-notch ball-handling and decision-making skills are what make the offense move. He is averaging 22 points and 9.5 assists a game while taking all the crunch-time shots and defending the other team's best guard.
     
    The 6'3", 209-pound PG is one of the best at his position, and the raging debate over Williams and Chris Paul continues.

9. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket for a layup against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half at Staples Center on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Celtics defeated the Lakers 109-96
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    It’s not the 11 points a game that make Rondo a potential MVP.

    It’s his 12.4 dimes that grab your attention. He averages over a whole assist more per game than the next highest player in the NBA.

    His 2.4 swipes a game are a testament to the incredible defense Rondo is capable of playing. His long arms and terrific athleticism make him one of the premier defenders in the league.

    Sure, his 54 percent mark from the free throw line is a red flag. But Rondo is making a case for best point guard in the NBA at a time when there are a ton of worthy candidates.

    Not to mention he plays for a team that currently has the top record in the Eastern Conference.

8. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to his defense during a stop in play against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Mr. Consistency is at it again in 2010-2011, and it’s funny to hear all of the recent controversy about the Lakers struggling.
     
    This just in: The Lakers are still the No. 2 seed in the West, and it’s still only February.

    The Laker players aren’t panicking (well, except for maybe Ron Artest), and it’s because of the example their star sets.
     
    Bryant goes out and does his job on a nightly basis and is putting up numbers so eerily similar to his career averages that it’s scary.
     
    This season: 25.5 PPG, 5 APG and 5 RPG

    Career: 25.3 PPG, 4.7 APG and 5.3 RPG

    At the end of the year Bryant will once again be in the MVP conversation. Been this way for the last decade.

7. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

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    DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 19:  Forward Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on January 19, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agre
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Dirk sprinted out of the gate and to the front of the MVP pack to begin the season.
     
    His team had one of the best records in the league, and Dirk was both dominant and efficient.
     
    In his first 25 games Dirk scored 25 points a contest while hitting on 56 percent of his shots from the floor.
     
    Then Dirk injured his knee in late December. His team went on to lose seven of the nine games he missed. When he returned, his shot was a bit rusty, and his shooting percentage dropped to 44 percent in the month of January.
     
    But now the Mavs have won eight in a row, and the Dirk for MVP cause has reappeared.
     
    For the season he scores 23.4 points with just under seven rebounds a game while shooting 53 percent from the field.

6. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 22:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets drives the ball up the court during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the New Orleans Arena on January 22, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Hornets defeated the Spurs 96-7
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The 175-pound PG has proven to the rest of the league why he is the greatest point guard in the NBA of the last five seasons.
     
    After undergoing major knee surgery last season, Paul has returned to form in 2010-2011.
     
    He may be half a step slower after the procedure, but that hasn’t stopped him from scoring almost 17 points and notching 10 assists a game. CP3 leads the NBA with 2.5 steals a game as well.
     
    The difference between the Hornets with and without Paul is night and day.

    The Hornets were considered one of the more disappointing teams in the league without him, and now they are back in the middle of the Western Conference playoff hunt.

    Right now New Orleans is the No. 5 seed. Paul is as valuable to his team as any player in the NBA.

5. LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    MIAMI - FEBRUARY 06:  Forward LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts against the L.A. Clippers at American Airlines Arena on February 6, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Clippers 97-79. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees t
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    I think there is little doubt that LeBron is the most talented player in the league right now. The 26-year-old is in the prime of his career, and his 26 points, 7.3 assists and 7.2 rebounds a game are par for the course with James.

    This season his shooting percentages are better than his career averages across the board.

    His 48 percent from the floor, 35 percent from three and 76 percent from the charity stripe are all making James a more efficient player. His three-point shooting has been the best of his entire career.
     
    But his chances of winning another MVP are slim because:
     
    1. He has won the award two years in a row.

    2. His public image has been so tarnished in the last seven months that he is now the biggest villain in the league. Not exactly good for an MVP candidate.

    3. Joining forces with Dwyane Wade makes his importance to the Heat a lot less than his previous value with the Cavs.

4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

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    BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 06:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic takes a shot as Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics defends on February 6, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Magic 91-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The best center in the league should have won an MVP at this point in his six-year NBA career—but it’s the lack of maturity that has really hampered his chances.
     
    Mocking LeBron and the Celtics in the span of four days is not a smart idea. LeBron went off for 51, and the Celts took it to his Magic.
     
    But the numbers are incredible. He puts up 22.4 points and 13.7 boards while blocking 2.1 shots a game.
     
    The 6'11", 265-pound Howard still can’t get past his woes from the charity stripe. His 58 percent clip is worse than his career mark. Even Shaq slowly improved over the years.
     
    D-Howard is the only guy in the league that is shooting 58 percent from the floor and from the free throw line.
     
    This is another great year for Howard, but another non-MVP campaign. Orlando fans nod in agreement as they wait for Howard to take the next step.

3. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 22:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on December 22, 2010 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/o
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    He may not be in the driver's seat to win the MVP this season, but there is no doubt he will at some point.
     
    Durant posted his fifth double-double over his last six games in the Thunder's win over the Jazz on Saturday.
     
    For the season, Durant is leading the NBA in points per game with 29. He is shooting 47 percent from the field and 88 percent from the line while also grabbing seven boards a game.

    The is little doubt that Durant is the best pure scorer in the league in 2011.
     
    He is one of the most efficient players in the league and is the face of a franchise that is currently the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

2. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 02:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls goes up for a shot over Blake Griffin #32 and Eric Bledsoe #12 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on February 2, 2011  in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressl
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    It sure didn’t take D-Rose long to make his mark on the league.
     
    In only his third season, Rose is the conductor for a team that is hovering around 20 games over .500.
     
    Rose is averaging 24.4 points, 8.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds a game.

    The key to this season has been his increased range. He has gone from 22 to 28 to 37 percent from behind the arc.
     
    He is deadly in the open court, and the 22-year-old is quickly becoming the vocal leader of a team full of veterans.
     
    Rose is the only All-Star on his squad, unlike Miami’s big three and the Celtics' big four—another reason Rose is so valuable to his team.
     
    Plenty of season to go, but Rose is currently second in the clubhouse behind...

1. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks

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    PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 07:  Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 7, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    He is doing the unthinkable...Amar'e is reviving a dead franchise. After almost a decade of misery, the Big Apple finally has hope again.
     
    All it took was one guy.
     
    Amare is scoring 26.3 points a game—good enough for second in the NBA. He is shooting over 50 percent from the floor and is almost hitting on 80 percent of his free throws.
     
    Don’t forget that Amare also grabs 8.7 rebounds, swats 2.2 blocks and collects a steal a game. He has played in every game this season despite dealing with a nagging knee injury.
     
    Amare gets bonus points for carrying a franchise on his back while reviving it in the process. If he continues the torrid pace and keeps the Knicks in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff mix...ladies and gents, this is your MVP.