By Kyle Hughes
The NBA regular season is coming to a close soon and people are making their decisions on who should be MVP. It seems like most of the media has already decided that Derrick Rose is this years MVP. While he certainly is a top candidate I don’t think it should be decided quite yet. This should be a tight race and has 4 players with very legitimate cases for the MVP.
Derrick Rose: Like I mentioned he seems to be the leader in the clubhouse and he is having the best year of his young career. He has been the best player on the best team in the East. Here is a breakdown of the stats:
Team Record: 53-20
FG %: .440
3pt %: .329
Pros: D-Rose has been the most important player on the most improved team in the league. The Bulls are legitimate contenders with him running the show and he is putting up career highs in assists, rebounds, and points. He has been strong defensively as well.
Cons: He isn’t in the top 5 of any statistical category. He is shooting the lowest FG% of his career. The team’s improvement could be attributed to new head coach Tom Thibideau. Russell Westbrook has similar numbers. If Russell Westbrook played on the Bulls, instead of Rose, the Bulls probably would have the same record and Westbrook would have better numbers.
Lebron James: Many expected Lebron’s numbers to drop off playing alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh,but they haven’t. He still looks like the best player in the league night in and night out.
Team Record: 51-23
FG %: .504
3pt %: .332
Pros: Despite having to share the ball with two other superstars Lebron is still second in the league in scoring and shooting career high percentage from the field. He leads the Heat in points, assists, 2nd in rebounds. He is outscoring D-Rose by 1.5 ppg despite shooting 1.5 times less than Rose per game. He is also a top 5 defender in the league. Look at what Cleveland is without him.
Cons: The third leading scorer in the league is on the same team and the third leading scorer on the Heat is ranked 26th in the league in scoring. Without Lebron, the Heat would likely still be a 45 to 50 win team.
Dwight Howard: The best big man in the league has taken his game to another level this season. He has been great and his leadership has taken a step forward as well.
Team Record: 47-27
Pros: His offensive game has evolved and he now has an array of impressive post moves along with a reliable 12-footer. He is still the top defender in the league. The Magic without Howard would be similar to how Cleveland is without Lebron. He is scoring a career high and tied for his career high in rebounds. He is second in the league in rebounds and FG%, third in blocks, and is the only Center in the league in the top 25 in steals.
Cons: His team is 4th in the East and will finish with a worse record than last season. He is second in the league in turnovers. Shoots sub 60% from the free throw line. Has 17 technical fouls on the season.
Kobe Bryant: Why is he not being discussed much in the MVP race? Basically because his numbers are not as gaudy as they were in previous seasons. Still Bryant is as deserving as anyone on this list.
Team Record: 53-20
Pros: He is the best player on the two time defending champion Lakers and he is willing them to another outstanding season. He is by far the best leader in the NBA. The Lakers are tied for the second most wins in the NBA and have been the best team since the All-Star break. Still a lock down defender.
Cons: Not in the top 5 in any statistical category. Numbers not as great as previous seasons. Plays for greatest coach in history of NBA.
Who should win?
If you’re surprised you should take a closer look at the numbers and take a step back from the hoopla surrounding this years MVP race.
In an effort to keep Bryant fresh and healthy for the playoffs, Coach Jackson has limited Bryant to 33.9 minutes per game. That is the lowest mpgs since his second year in the league. While Bryant is sixth in the NBA in scoring, he is first in points per 48 minutes. The Lakers have the same record as the Bulls and Bryant is scoring more points than Rose despite almost 4 less minutes a game than the Chicago all-star. The media has become infatuated with Rose and is ready to crown him MVP. Similar mistakes have been made before. Bryant is 6th all-time in scoring, has 5 NBA Championships, and is considered one of the most clutch players of all-time. Is there any way to justify that he has one MVP for his whole career? The same people that want to award Rose the MVP are the ones that gave two to Steve Nash while Bryant toiled away and continued winning championships. When Bryant starts playing around 40 minutes a game in the playoffs, scores over 30 a game, and leads his Lakers to another Finals appearance, people who voted for Rose are going to want their vote back.