The 2013 NBA regular season MVP award seems to be a lock to go to one of these four players – Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, LeBron James or Chris Paul. Looking at individual statistics, one could make an argument for Kobe Bryant‘s inclusion here as an MVP contender, but looking at the dismal state of his team, it’s a far cry for Kobe to even be in the conversation.
Both the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves are ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in the race for the eighth spot in the West, which is held by the Portland Blazers. LA Lakers are 17-21 right now. If they make it to the playoffs, Kobe could enter the MVP race. And here’s why it’s a remote possibility for him.
These four players have been dominating individually, and their teams have been winning. Take a look at their individual stats, followed by the case for each for the MVP award.
Stats courtesy: Basketball-Reference
1. Carmelo Anthony
This season is Carmelo Anthony’s best as a player, thus making him an MVP contender. Throughout his career, the teams he’s been on have been short of being truly excellent. This has led people to comment that his style of play is not conducive to the league. Maybe he believes this because he has become a little trigger shy.
“I think last year was very tough for him because he was criticized a lot for shooting and for playing the way he likes to play. Then, the whole Linsanity thing (happened) and everybody said, ‘Well, they’re better without Melo’ and all this nonsense. You guys (media) are all guilty of it.
"And as a result, he got a little gun-shy and a little self-conscious about things. I asked him, ‘What the hell are you doing? You have to do what you do best. Now, the organization has put pieces around him that have allowed him to be Melo. And now you guys are all celebrating him for things he’s always done. It’s funny. God bless you guys.”- Kobe Bryant.
The worst thing a scorer can do for his team is become trigger shy. Long before Kobe made the above comment, I had addressed this issue of a scorer’s mentality with respect to Kobe and Carmelo here.
Now at last, Carmelo is doing what he does best – lighting teams up. The New York Knicks are now 24-13, second in the Eastern Conference. There are some concerns that, as the season goes on, Melo’s bid for MVP may be hurt by Amare Stoudemire’s presence, but that remains to be seen. His MVP bid also has a feel good factor to it, a tale of redemption.
2. Kevin Durant
No, he’s not nice. Just ask his grandmother. Durant is so dominant, it’s not really fair to the competition. It has to be exasperating to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder. With this team, you have to pick your poison on defense; there’s no other way around it.
It all starts with MVP contender Kevin Durant. The 6'9" lanky swingman exudes an aura around him which has a palpable effect on all nine players on the court. There’s a reason why he has been the scoring champion of the league multiple times. When Durant drives in, the defenses are forced to collapse and scramble close to him to have even a hope of trying to contain him.
He covers an ungodly amount of ground with each step he takes. His measured and precise movements allow him to throw the best defenses in disarray. And he doesn’t even need to drive too often, with the way he knocks them down. When you are guarding someone who can effortlessly drain it from 25 feet, even with a hand in his face, you need to be on your toes at all times.
The closer Durant gets to the rim, or the more separation he creates between him and his man, the more defenses are forced to adjust to contest him. And it wrecks havoc with the defense. There’s no stopping Durant when he gets hot. The Thunder are at the top of the league with a 30-8 record, something which will help the votes come in Durant’s favor when the season is done.
3. LeBron James
The numbers are ungodly. What he does is superhuman. Even Jordan did not have as much of an all-round game as MVP contender James, although His Airness was a far better scorer and his tenacity and wiles made him better than James.
He averages 8.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists to go with 26 points per game; that’s how unreal LeBron is. And now he’s fast approaching 20,000 career points, only 18 points away from that as we speak. He’ll be the youngest player to reach that milestone. 28 years, 16 days is how old James is right now. The current youngest to 20,000 is Kobe Bryant, who reached the scoring milestone at 29 years, 122 days. Wilt Chamberlain got it at 29 years, 134 days.
LeBron is a better playmaker than Kobe, and he’s been helping the Miami Heat stay at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 24-12 record. There isn’t much to say about how well LeBron dominates the floor on both ends. He is a wrecking ball which rolls on with no regard to human life. There’s a good chance he will win the MVP this year, too.
4. Chris Paul
Selfishly, being a Clipper fan, I’d pick Chris Paul to win the MVP. The thing is, he has been playing fewer minutes than the other contenders for this award. He is averaging, at least, 4 minutes less than the others, thanks, in large part, to the tribe called bench which the Clippers have. Their bench is so good that it takes the pressure off Paul to be otherworldly.
That is the biggest factor which may sway the award away from Paul the MVP race. But his impact on both ends of the court is the major reason why the LA Clippers have a 30-9 record right now. He is one of the best crunch time scorers in the league and the formidable all-round performances which have been wrangled out of this Clippers squad is thanks, in large part, to Chris Paul.
Another factor which I think should be factored in here – Paul was the man behind the scenes who worked to assemble much of the Clipper roster. He spoke with Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford before they became Clippers, and it’s because he did that they are Clippers right now.
Going by the numbers, the MVP award is a lock to be given to one of these four players. And it’s still too early to tell which one. It’s like picking a limb from your body to hack off; can you really choose one MVP from among the four?
We have seen, in the past, that performance and numbers alone don’t decide the MVP, storylines factor in too. So maybe this is Carmelo’s year. Let’s wait and watch.