The race for 2012-13 NBA Most Valuable Player award has brought out the very best from some of the game’s greatest superstars. They have elevated their individual performances to career-high levels and are leading their teams to the top of the league.
However, as the season has rolled on, one man has slowly but surely separated himself from the pack and will almost certainly be awarded with the leagues Most Valuable Player award. Here are our top five candidates for the 2012-13 MVP.
1. LeBron James, Miami Heat
Quite simply the best player in the league playing on the best team in the league, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is playing at all-time great levels and has produced one of the most dominant, efficient and downright amazing seasons we have ever seen. In a season when the NBA’s other great players have elevated their game to career-best levels and have their teams near the top of the league, LeBron has seemingly made the race to the MVP obsolete long ago.
They call it the Most Valuable Player award for a reason and you don’t have to look very far to understand just how valuable LeBron is to the Heat. He leads the team in scoring with 26.9 points per game, rebounds with 8.1 and assists with 7.2. LeBron has long been a dominant player statistically, but he has taken it to another level entirely this season by shooting a super-efficient .563 from the floor and even more amazing is the improvement in his long-range shooting, converting at .403 on 3.4 attempts per game.
He has led the Heat to the best record in the NBA and has won the Player of the Month Award every month from November through to March. He created history becoming the only player to score more than 30 points and shoot better than 60 percent over a six-game stretch. Recently, he and the Heat again created history with the second-longest winning streak in NBA history with 27. He leads the league in PER, in win shares and just about every other advanced statistic you can find. Not only has his offense improved, but he has continued to develop into one of the league’s most intimidating defensive presences and will almost certainly be named on an All-Defensive team.
Simply put, there is no more dominant player in the NBA, or perhaps in sports, right now than LeBron James. If he goes on to win his fourth MVP award in the last five seasons he will join an elite group of the greatest players to ever play the game. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has six, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell each have five and he would match Wilt Chamberlain with four. In case you didn’t notice, those are arguably the four greatest players in NBA history (relax, I said “arguably.”)
Enjoy it, watch it in awe, this is as good as it gets. LeBron is the most dominant player in the league right now and he will lead the Heat into the playoffs as favorite for back-to-back titles. The resume that this man has assembled by the age of 28 is almost unheard of and with him still finding areas to improve, the rest of this list and any young superstar aiming to one day become a league MVP will just have to join the queue behind the King.
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
If it wasn’t for the aforementioned LeBron James, the season that Kevin Durant has put together in 2012-13 would warrant a much-deserved MVP trophy. At just 24 years old, Durant has ascended to become the clear-cut second-best player in the league and is on course for a historically great career.
The Thunder sit atop the Western Conference and have remained dominant despite the trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Durant has been phenomenal and has produced an outstanding scoring season that few have ever matched. While putting up 28.3 points per game, Durant shot better than 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. The 50/40/90 feat is one rarely achieved and would often be attributed to role-playing, spot-up shooters, not superstars scoring at the second-highest per-game rate in the league.
As well as his dominant scoring performance, Durant has molded himself into a much more well-rounded player this season. A career high in assists per game with 4.5, blocks with 1.3 and steals with 1.4 shows the dedication Durant has to improving his overall game and that just adds to his continued impressive effort on the glass with 7.9 rebounds. Durant has played every game this season, has set his career high in points breaking the 50-point barrier and registered his first career triple-double.
In a lot of seasons we would be looking at the league MVP and few would be able to argue, if it were not for one LeBron James, Kevin Durant would be one of the youngest players to ever win the award. The real battle comes in the playoffs and the test for Durant will be if he can lead his young Thunder squad back to the finals and a chance at redemption against LeBron and the Heat. The next few years will determine if Durant becomes the Bird to LeBron’s Magic, or if he will be the Karl Malone to LeBron’s MJ.
3. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony has achieved some amazing things this season in New York. He is leading the league in scoring with 28.6 points per game, but more importantly is his hand in the revival of the New York Knicks’ franchise. The Knicks will finish first in the Atlantic Division for the first time since the 1993-94 season, when they went on to appear in the NBA Finals. They will also finish with their best regular-season record since 1996-97 and Carmelo has been catalyst of the Knicks’ ascent back into the elite of the Eastern Conference.
Carmelo has responded to all the pressure and responsibility of being a franchise player in the New York spotlight. Despite dealing with a number of injuries throughout the season, the Knicks are finishing strong and that is in big part to the dominance of Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks had won 13 straight games prior to their overtime loss to the Bulls on Thursday, April 11, and over the past six games Carmelo has scored 50, 40, 42 and 36 points on three occasions in what is an explosive end to the regular season.
As well as his amazing scoring ability, Carmelo has contributed with 2.6 assists per game and 6.6 rebounds for the Knicks and will lead the team into the most-hyped playoff appearance for more than a decade. While he is not quite on the same level as Durant or James, what Anthony has produced this season both individually and for the Knicks’ franchise should not be overlooked.
4. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Despite a coming back down to earth over the past few weeks, the Los Angeles Clippers have been one of the Western Conference’s best teams this season and importance of Chris Paul in Lob City’s success cannot be understated. The league’s best point guard, Paul has continued his stellar career and in his second year with the Clippers has the team on the verge of the most successful regular season in franchise history.
Paul sets the pace and the tone for the entire Clippers team. A roster full of explosive athletes and outside shooters, Paul is responsible for running the entire offense when he is on the court and is the unquestioned leader of the team. He is second in the league with 9.6 assists per game and even more importantly, leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio with an astonishing 4.19.
Not just the leader of the offense, Paul is a tenacious defender and sets the tone for the team with his aggressiveness on the ball and in the passing lanes. He leads the league with 2.4 steals per game. He rounds out an impressive all-around statline with 17 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient .481 from the field and .888 from the free-throw line.
One of the game’s greatest competitors, Paul is essential to everything the Clippers do and is the definition of valuable. We will see if he sticks around in free agency this summer and just how far he can take the Clippers in the playoffs.
It may be a cop out and, yes, it was a top-five list, but there is just no way to split these two stars from San Antonio and they both deserve credit for putting in yet another outstanding season for the Spurs franchise. The Spurs are second the Western Conference, just 0.5 game back of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and have been outstanding all season dominating a tough Western Conference.
Duncan, who is about to turn 36 years old, has found the fountain of youth and produced some of his best statistics in years. His defensive impact is still among the league’s elite and his 2.7 blocks per game average is his best mark since the 2003-04 season, while his 94.6 defensive rating is the best in the NBA. He continues to be one of the most productive players in the league with 17.7 points, 10 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Meanwhile, Tony Parker has produced the best season, statistically, in his illustrious career and was on a tear before injury struck. He is averaging 20.6 points and three rebounds per game. His 7.5 assists per game average is good for sixth in the league and he continues to be one of the most efficient guards in the league shooting a ridiculous .562 from the field.
Both players have missed a significant stretch of games due to injury but each was able to take over the leadership of the team in the others’ absence. The Spurs continued dominance in the Western Conference despite the great Tim Duncan entering his 16th postseason is nothing short of amazing. These two superstars and coach Gregg Popovich deserve a ton of credit for the ongoing success of the franchise and both players deserve to be recognized for their contribution this season.
Honorable Mention: James Harden, Houston Rockets; Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers.
Topics: Bill Russell, Candidates, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Hoopshabit, James Harden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Lebron James, Los Angeles Clippers, Magic Johnson, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan, Most Valuable Player, MVP, NBA, Nba Awards, Nba Awards Watch, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Wilt Chamberlain