Thursday, April 12, 2012

Updated NBA MVP Race

Since the 2012 NBA season is coming to a close, I figured it would be appropriate to discuss potential MVP candidates. As of April 5th, I had LeBron, Durant, Kobe, K-Love, Tony Parker, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook (in that order). There have been a few minor changes within the past week, so here are my updated MVP rankings.

Despite a loss to the Celtics on Tuesday night, LeBron put up 36 points, 7 assists and 7 boards. King James' statistics are undeniable and he has been my leading candidate ever since the performance he put on against OKC on April 4th. Kevin Durant went 7-21 from the field last night in a loss to the Clippers and took a controversial 28-footer at the buzzer. Despite a few shaky games, Durant is second in the league in scoring and his Thunder sit atop the Western Conference. Kobe Bryant has missed the last three games, which may hurt his stock a little bit, but I would be surprised if Kobe finished outside the top three. Kevin Love suffered a mild concussion last night and the timetable for his return is unknown at this point. As long as Love doesn't miss too many games, he will finish near the top five.

The Spurs got humiliated last night (on their home court) by a Kobe-less Lakers squad. Tony Parker shot a disappointing 2-12 from the floor last night and has started to cool off. In his last four games, Parker averaged just 12.3 points and 4.8 assists on just 40% shooting. Chris Paul dropped 31 last night in OKC on 55% shooting. Although CP3 has struggled a little bit as of late, he has the Clippers in fourth place in the West and only 1.5 games behind the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead. Russell Westbrook shot 3-14 from the field last night and has shot just 37% from the floor in his last five games. Westbrook was emerging as a legitimate candidate a few weeks ago, but after a mediocre last few games, he is starting to slip a little.

Here are some surprises:

Rajon Rondo deserves some MVP love. For the sixth time this season, Rondo put up a triple-double (10 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds) last night in an OT win against Atlanta. The Celtics are atop the Atlantic division and have won the most games in the NBA since the all-star break. Rondo leads the league with 11.4 assists per game.

Josh Smith is having his best season as a professional. On a nightly basis, Smith is putting up 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks, one and a half steals and is logging 36 minutes of playing time. He has the Atlanta Hawks in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and has played in (and started) all 58 games this season.

Steve Nash also deserves some recognition as an MVP candidate. Despite averaging only 12.8 points per game, Nash is shooting a career-high 54% from the floor and is second in the league in assists with 11.1 per game. Not to mention Nash shoots 88% from the free throw line.

As of now, I'd have to go with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith (in that order).

Honorable Mention: Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Blake Griffin, Dwyane Wade and Andrew Bynum (in that order).

Note: The reason I have CP3 and Tony Parker over K-Love is because the T-Wolves are the fourth worst team in the Western Conference.

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