The Top Candidates for the NBA MVP Award
Throughout the first third of the NBA season, the league has panned out significantly different than expected.
The New York Knicks are arguably the best, most well rounded team in the league right now. The Los Angeles Clippers are the hottest team in LA, and probably on the west coast. The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling instead of thriving. “Looking good on paper” has failed to translate to looking good on the court. The Miami Heat, while good, they aren’t the over dominate powerhouse that they were at the end of last season. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden risking the winning recipe that they had last season.
Last season, the MVP race was clearly between Kevin Durant and LeBron James. This season, due to these changes, there are more candidates for the MVP award.
James knows that Durant is his greatest competition in the league, especially long-term. The two have worked out together, won Olympic gold medals together and competed against each other for the NBA championship. However, there are a handful of other players who want in the Durant and James competition. Both the eastern and western conferences house challengers for the MVP award and even the NBA championship.
In the interview that accompanied his Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year title, James recognized that Durant is his greatest competition, telling the magazine that: “I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot. And I know where he is, too. He's in Oklahoma."
Although, 27-year old James and 24-year old Durant will compete against each other for MVP awards and championships for perhaps the next decade, this year, Durant isn’t the only one who wants LeBron’s spot.
Who are the top candidates to take James’ MVP award for the 2012-2013 season?
5. Kobe Bryant
The scoring leader.
Bryant has cemented his place among the all-time greats. However, can he lead the Lakers to the playoffs? Or does Kobe’s success come at the expense of the team’s success?
4. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony completely destroyed the argument that NBA players shouldn’t qualify for Olympic play. The London Olympics rejuvenated Melo. And in turn, he revitalized the Knicks.
Melo is doing absolutely everything right. He's having an MVP season but injuries could get in his way.
3. LeBron James
- The Heat always take a little while to get their rhythm back after the offseason. Personally, LeBron James is having one of the best seasons in the history. If James truly wanted to, he could probably rival Durant and Kobe Bryant for points scored. However, like Chris Paul, James knows his role and that his personal resume cannot come before the team.
James has won three MVP awards in a row. He is undoubtedly the best player in the world but it is questionable if, this season, he is the most valuable in the league. He doesn't have to struggle to lead a team the way Paul did or find a way to rebuild like Kobe does.
2. Kevin Durant
LeBron James has named Durant his greatest competition.
Durant is one of the best scorers in the league and the Thunder are probably the best overall team in the league.
Durant has been so close to the NBA championship and the MVP award, James is his only barrier. This could very well be Durant's year.
1. Chris Paul
Chris Paul has done something no other player has ever been able to do, turn the Clippers into a legitimate franchise. Paul has led the team further than anyone thought possible.
Although, the Clippers are largely marketed as Blake Griffin’s team, which makes sense as he has committed to them long-term, there is absolutely no doubt that Paul is the Clippers leader and savior
The Clippers schedule has seemed to be a little more lax than a lot of teams so it’s still a little soon to brag about their excellent winning record. Regardless, Paul is the most valuable player in the league because he puts winning as a team ahead of his personal success.
- Paul ensures that Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers, other point guard gets the playing time he deserves, even though Paul’s own statistics suffer as a result. He’s the ultimate leader, team player, and distributor.