Every year, it seems LeBron James or Kobe Bryant is named Most Valuable Player of the NBA. But this year, while both are involved, there is a new band of players looking to take over the hunt for the MVP award.
Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and even James Harden have entered the MVP conversation with their spectacular play, joining James, Bryant, and Durant in the attention-stealing 2013 NBA MVP hunt. Paul isn’t new to the MVP race, but by leading the league in steals per game and being second in assists per game while running the show for a 25-8 team certainly will get you in the conversation, especially when you average 16.3 points per game as well. Paul is one of the most gifted players in the league, and he’s finally getting credit for his performance.
Paul has done a great job setting up fellow playmakers such as Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford and I think he is far and away the best point guard in the game. He has taken the Clippers to the top of the difficult-to-navigate Western Conference, and he deserves a reward for it. In fact, he might even be the favorite to win the award.
James is always up there, but his case isn’t as valid this year. He is fourth in the league in scoring, averaging an ample amount of points (26.6). He also averages 8.6 rebounds and 7.1 assists and he has guided the Heat to a 22-9 record. But the Heat don’t seem as dominant this year and James isn’t in the top three in any major statistical categories this year, and he is only in the top five in scoring. While his team is currently on top of the Eastern Conference, he also has Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh on his team to assist him.
Durant’s team is thriving as well and while he ranks third in scoring (28.3) and nothing else, he averages 7.8 RPG and 4.1 APG, well over his career averages. If there’s any year Durant deserves MVP, it’s this year, when he is without Harden. The Thunder have the league’s best winning percentage and it’s largely because of Durant.
Bryant leads the league with 30.3 points a game and he has respectable rebounding and assists totals (although neither average is above six). The deciding factor with Bryant, however, is how his team is doing, as they are 15-16 this year. He has never been known for being a star passer or rebounder, but while his point total is high, it will take a lot more from the team as a whole for another award to head Bryant’s way.
Harden has thrived since being traded to the Rockets, as Jeremy Lin has set him up and Harden has been having a career year. He is averaging 26.3 points per game, good for fifth in the league. The Rockets aren’t too improved (19-14) from their 34-32 mark last year, but Harden’s 5.3 assists per game and scoring totals have paid dividends. Houston is thriving and because he is the primary scorer and leading the Rockets to the most amount of points per game in the league, he deserves consideration. However, Houston will have to pick it up and Harden can’t let up.
Anthony is also breaking onto the scene with a career year, helping the 22-10 Knicks ascend to the top of the Eastern Conference hierarchy. His 28.9 points per game places him second in the NBA, and he is doing well with 6.3 rebounds. While I do believe the Knicks won’t keep up their torrid pace, Anthony certainly can keep up his. His 26.44 PER puts him in the elite band of players, and that’s the status he certainly deserves to own.
All of these players will be considered for the MVP award if they stay away from a devastating injury and if they keep up the pace. But in my opinion, one of these players is a crystal-clear favorite for the coveted prize.
CP3 was close to winning it when he took the Hornets on a fun playoff ride in 2008, as they fell just short of making the Western Conference Finals. And he has the Clippers poised for an even more amusing journey this year, as his spectacular, unselfish performance has been the main reason for the success of the Clippers.
Paul has always been a star in this league, but he’s never been complemented with the most talent. However, he does a great job of getting the ball to the guys he has, and he and Blake Griffin have emerged into one of the most feared tandems in the NBA. Paul has always been one to take and make the big shot, and his clutch play and ability to perform the same (if not better) in the clutch is huge.
All the other teams that involve these MVP candidates are more than talented, but they don’t seem to possess the same ability the Clippers have, and the Clippers are the Clippers because of their point guard. Paul isn’t scoring as much, because he’s amping up his passing and his defense. Paul is one of the best at creating fast breaks and quick shots, and he is the best passer and defender on this list. He’s got great stats, and he only averages a criminal 33.1 minutes per game.
Paul doesn’t try and do too much, but if a shot is needed, he will take it and almost always make it. Kobe is considered clutch, but he hasn’t been making a lot of his clutch shots lately. In fact, statistically, LeBron is more clutch and we all know that LeBron isn’t considered very clutch. On this list, I have no doubt that Paul is the best late-game player.
He’s been playing like that this year, too. Paul has been spreading the floor while playing smart basketball and doing everything right to get his team to win. He is unselfish and will sacrifice whatever for his team to win, and he’s been showing that throughout the year. The other players have, too, but if CP3 keeps this up, the MVP award is his.
And if he keeps it up, the NBA Finals MVP award might be his too.
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