Sizing up the MVP Race

It could be just me here, but the upcoming season in the NBA may have more legitimate MVP candidates than any season in recent memory. This year, you could well have upto 8 guys with legit – not just guys having a good season, I’m talking legit – chances to take home the trophy currently shining brightly and showing off its talents in South Beach. Before we get into who’ll be in with a shout, let’s take a look at some requirements necessary to be in the running.

1.      Be the best player on a pretty good team

2.      Be the number one (or at least number 1a) guy at your position in the league

3.      Win at least 50 games

4.      Have a significant rise in one of the major statistical categories

5.      Play in over 70 games

I think those are fair requirements right? Let’s take the last decade of MVP’s as an example.

2000/2001- Allen Iverson – 54 wins, Finals appearance, All Star MVP, Points per game and steals per game rose, led the league in steals

2001/2002 – Tim Duncan – 58 wins, Points per game rose by 3ppg from previous season, averaged 12.7 boards a game

2002/2003 – Tim Duncan – 60 wins, NBA Champions, Points per game dropped but rebounds and FG% rose, All NBA 1st team and 1st team defense

2003/2004 – Kevin Garnett – 58 wins, All NBA First Team, 24 points and 14 rebounds season average

2004/2005 – Steve Nash – 62 wins, 16 points 12 assists season averages, led team to 1st place in points per game and pace factor in the league

2005/2006 – Steve Nash – 54 wins, points up to 19 per game, free throw percentage of 92%, rebounds and field goal % rose also

2006/2007 – Dirk Nowitzki – 67 wins, 25 points per game, 90-40-50 were his percentages from the stripe, three and field respectively

2007/2008 – Kobe Bryant – 57 wins, Finals appearance, 28 points per game which was a drop but team wins up 5 (Hello Pau Gasol!!) and his game time went down also

2008/2009 – LeBron James – 66 wins, 28 points, 7 boards and 7 assists per game averages, first player since Kareem to have a 50 point triple-double

2009/2010 – LeBron James – 61 wins, Points, assists and field goal % rose significantly, became youngest player to register 15,000 NBA points

Pretty impressive numbers and a telling tale of how that decade went, right? But this is a new year, a new decade, so what better time for a new MVP, right? The following rankings are not how I figure the actual voting to end up come seasons end; they are just the guys I consider to be legitimately in the running. But going out on a limb, I will predict my MVP at the end of the column. So without further ado, the candidates for the 2010/11 NBA MVP are…

LeBron James, Miami Heat.

Pros; on a team that could win 65 games plus, could quite conceivably average a triple double, will be made to look very good even on bad nights due to his supporting cast

Cons; how many second fiddle guys have own MVP the last 50 years? Could see a dramatic fall off in points scored, ruthless, one-man-wrecking-crew performances of seasons past that won him the award might not be evident this year

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder.

Pros; he’s the new golden boy of the NBA, he’s the best player on the team with the best biggest threat to LA in the West, undisputed leader and go-to guy with a very likeable (if you’re not from Seattle) team

Cons; too young, will need to lead the league in scoring again if he has any chance to win, team not fulfilling expectations this year (many are expecting a WCF appearance) may count against him

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Fakers.

Pros; seen in an even higher light since “The Decision” by the media, still the best closer in the league, due to new defensive additions his scoring could possibly go up, main guy spearheading the charge for another three-peat

Cons; age, desire to actually want to win regular season MVP (if you offered him that or the Finals MVP guess which one he’d choose) and may become even more of a facilitator this season in light of equalling MJ in the rings department

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic.

Pros; defensive juggernaut, potentially unstoppable offensively with his size/speed/strength, could very well be on the best team in the East

Cons; offensive game, not demanding more touches/bigger part on his team, too reliant on Jameer Nelson to truly flourish?

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks.

Pros; on a loaded team, knows this may be his last chance to get a ring due to age so will just go full-blooded all season long, still a match up nightmare for almost every team in the NBA

Cons; his chances rely on Dallas more heavily so then other candidates, will his aging limbs handle 82 games?

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls.

Pros; no point guard in the league can contain him, on a dark horse team in the East, impressively better every single season thus far

Cons; he’s on a dark horse – not a favourite, needs to be the best PG in the NBA to really have a shot, how will his number fare with the new arrivals in Chicago

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat.

Pros; will be alpha dog on a potential 60-win team, if he’s the one taking the decisive shots in games for Miami he virtually eliminates LeBron from the discussion

Cons; numbers will drop due to him seeing less of the ball, will he be the best player on his own team?

Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets.

Pros; still the best point guard alive, should be revitalised after last seasons disaster campaign, (semi) fresh team around him, perhaps intending on a virtuoso final season with the Hornets?

Cons; how heeled will he be, will New Orleans contend in the West, will he even finish out the season in New Orleans (though, if he ended up on a different team that could help him)

So those are my guys – one of them will be MVP, unless something totally out of the blue goes down and shocks us all. There some guys I left off my list that could have made it here – Melo, Rondo, Deron Williams, Amare to name a few – but right now, I just don’t think it’s those guys time. They very well could be in the conversation, Melo could lead Denver to the WCF, Rondo could average a triple-double and lead Boston to the NBA Finals, Williams could show the world he’s PG numero uno by taking the unfancied Jazz to the WCF and Amare could average 40 points a night in New York, those things and those things only would get them in serious contention – would you back any of those things happening? Thought so.

Oh, just because I said I would, my 2011 NBA MVP prediction is Kevin Durant. Unstoppable scorer, blossoming team, media darling, potential defensive star, fantastic teammate, great attitude and desire, loves the challenge, rises to the occasion…I could go on, but won’t. It’s his time now.

On the Cavs new uniforms that were released this week – I love ‘em. I think they’re stylish and elegant, and like Brendan stated, less is more, especially in the fashion world. But what the hell do I know about fashion? Now, if only I can find a store somewhere that will take all my old number 23 Cavalier jerseys and swap me for this years one with a big shiny number 21 on the back and I’ll be a happy dude.

 Contact me at dol-17@hotmail.com for the Stepien Rules mailbag, Twitter @DOL17 or Facebook.

 

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