The NBA season is already one-quarter of the way done. So far, we know the Lakers and Celtics are in a class of their own; the Cavs are much improved with the addition of Mo Williams; and the Suns and Mavericks are no longer championship contenders.
Many people are talking about how the East has caught up with the West (simply not true), but one thing I want to address is who is going to win the MVP award?
Last season, Kobe Bryant finally received the award after getting ripped off of it several times before. He won the award because he lead the young Lakers to the best record in the mighty Western Conference by playing his usual great offense with more focus on making his teammates better and very good defense on the perimeter.
This season, Kobe hasn’t had to put up as good numbers as years in the past due to the tremendous depth of the Lakers, which has so far allowed him to only average 34 minutes per game, the lowest since his second year when he was only 19 years old. His scoring is down to 24.9 points per game, he is averaging over five rebounds, four rebounds and 1.6 steals.
While he is averaging less than last year in every major statistic, he is shooting a very good 47 percent from the field, 86.4 percent from the free throw line and only 2.4 turnovers per game. He has also led the Lakers to a fantastic record of 16 – 2 while his team has simply dominated their opponents as they are winning by an average margin of 12.2 points per game.
Lets look at the other major candidates to win the award.
Last year’s runner up, Chris Paul, is simply having an amazing year, but his team is not as good as it was last year and it will be extremely difficult for him to win the award when his team will be 10 – 15 games behind the Lakers. He is averaging over 20 points and nearly 12 assists, but I don’t see him winning the award this year.
Kevin Garnett, who finished third last season, is again having a great year both offensively and defensively. However, if he didn’t win the award last year with better stats, it is very unlikely he will win it this year. He is averaging fewer points, rebounds, assists and steals this season, while also shooting a lower percentage from the field.
Lebron James, who last year finished fourth, is again having a great all around year. He is averaging over 26 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals per game while shooting over 48 percent from the field. Most importantly, however, is the fact that his Cavaliers are the best they’ve been since he arrived as they are 16 - 3 and look like they could flirt with a 60 win season.
Chris Bosh: He is having by far his best season of his career so far. He is averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 assists and one block while shooting a tremendous 53 percent from the field. However, his Raptors will be lucky to have a .500 record as they just fired their coach and aren’t deep enough to overcome their injury problems, mainly with Jermaine O’Neal.
Dwight Howard: He has been a complete beast this season as he again is leading the league in rebounding, but most importantly he has improved his defense immensely as he is currently leading the league by averaging over four steals a game. However, I don’t think the Magic are going to have a good enough record for him to win the award over Kobe and Lebron.
Dwyane Wade: Wade is having his best season of his career. He is averaging over 28 points, 7.7 assists, five rebounds, over two steals and nearly two blocks while shooting a fantastic 49 percent from the field. However, he also has the problem that his team won’t have a good enough record for him to win the award as they will be lucky to be .500.
In conclusion, I think only Kobe or Lebron have a real shot to win the award as they are the two best players in the league and both of their teams are going have great records. I think that at the end, Kobe will edge out Lebron because the Lakers are going to have nearly 70 wins, if not 70 or more, while the Cavs will be about 10 games behind the Lakers record.