We were going to do a top 10/15 list but it’s already been done and botched so we’re focusing elsewhere. Taking a look at how we think the MVP Race will pan out this season. 1 thru ten, the preseason MVP rankings:
1. Kevin Durant: The gap between the number one and number two player in the league is pretty wide (evidence in the 2012 NBA Finals). But the best player doesn’t always have to win this award, the best player (usually because he has a championship(s)) doesn’t have too much to play for in the regular season. What you have here is the 24 year old, 3x defending scoring champ, who got his first taste of anguish in June. There’s no doubt in my mind that KD, as humble as he is, wants it all this year. Yes another scoring title, yes his first MVP, and of course and NBA Championship.
2. Lebron James: The only reason he isn’t number one, even with all of that being said about KD, is that I find it highly doubtful that the press and whoever else votes for the MVP will give Bron 4 in 5 years. His numbers will be there as they’ve always been. He’ll probably hit more big shots than before, but he may also realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is what the season’s journey is really about.
3. Carmelo Anthony: In an Eastern Conference as competitive as ever and now in a city where he shares the spotlight, his 10th year will be his best. Everyone else from the 03 draft has a ring, even Darko. If that doesn’t/hasn’t driven Melo over the top this summer then he’ll never be what we thought he was in Syracuse. Expect to see the offense flow through him under coach Woodson as it did that last month and a half of the 2012 season. Expect to see improved effort and energy on the defensive end this year. And if Melo does all of the above on a Knicks team that gets say 52 wins it will be very hard to deny Melo this glory. While I’m sure that the season won’t end in a Knick parade, Melo will light the Garden up more consistently than he did this past year.
4. Deron Williams: DWill may not wanna hear all that Carmelo king of the city talk as he will have his most successful season as a pro himself. 2 straight seasons without a playoff birth has got to be motivation for Deron to not only push his team to do the same for self. Add the NY media to the mix, and a team expected to win 50 games and he could really take home the hardware.
5. Chris Paul: In my honest opinion he’s still the best point guard in the league. Can score, defend and is along with Lebron and Nash among the best playmakers of the past 10 years. A healthier and deeper Clippers team will increase his chances at winning it. If the Clippers somehow end the season with a better record than the Lakers, it will be because of CP3 and he will win his first MVP.
6. Dwight Howard: He’s the best player on the Lakers, second best in town. Dwight probably won’t ever put up the 25 a night like the centers in the 90’s but that won’t even be necessary in Los Angeles. A dominant defensive force night in and night out, plus an improved record in LA, all fingers will point to Dwight and he could sneak away with it.
7. Kevin Love: Contingent on making the playoffs, this is pretty much the average spot we see Love going. If the Wolves get in, he really might take the trophy, because the 25 and 15 is gonna be there every night. Add the fact that the NBA LOVES a white superstar a la Steve Nash in 06 (smh), all Kev has to do is show up and I’m almost sure that this is as low as he’ll fall in the MVP voting.
8. Andrew Bynum: For the first time in a long time Philadelphia actually has a go to guy, a star player. Playing in what will be the best and most entertaining division in the NBA in years, Bynum could possibly be the best player in it. The only thing that seemed to hold Philly back last year (7 games in the second round) was a center presence. Now they have a young and aggressive (when he wants to be) 5, this could be a dangerous mixture. If Philly can somehow dethrone the Celtics in the Atlantic division and be the second or even first seed in the Eastern Conference Bynum has to get a ton of first and second place votes.
9. Rajon Rondo: It’s never been more evident that the Celtics are his than now. Pierce and Garnett have happily handed the reigns over and Rondo hasn’t been hesitant in taking them. His only flaw in winning an MVP award is that he has regular season games where he doesn’t really show up. If we gave it out based on what the player did in televised games and in April and May well he would probably get this. A lot of pressure is on the Celtics to win it all this season, Rondo leads them to 60 wins, it’s his.
10. Kobe Bryant: No way a list about MVPs could have existed without The Black Mamba. No disrespect in this at all but he’s now the third best player in LA, though I will say he can and some nights will look like the best. I don’t know if we will get the Olympics Kobe or the Kobe we’re used to seeing, either way he will have a hard shot at winning his second MVP award. But if we know Kobe, we know how competitive he is and that he may give it one more push at being the best, though his ultiamte goal is beating the best (#1 and #2 on this list).