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RACE TO THE MVP
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Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Best stats in the league still don't guarantee an MVP trophy

By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Posted Feb 2 2009 9:18AM

Each week, we receive plenty of comments from fans of the players occupying the top two spots in the Race to the MVP: our No. 1, LeBron James and our No. 2, Kobe Bryant. They are two decidedly different but wholly dedicated factions who go at it, claws bared and teeth sharpened.

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Recently, a vocal third faction has entered the fray: Dwyane Wade fans. They cite their hero's digits: a league-leading 28.7 points per game, 7.2 assists and -- if they're fans who know how to argue -- they also call out his 2.2 steals and his amazing 1.5 blocks per game, best of all guards.

By most measures, Wade's averages this season are MVP numbers. Add to that Wade's Heat are winning and his fans have a plenty of fodder to make a legitimate argument. Yet in this week's rankings he's fourth behind James, Bryant and Dwight Howard. Why?

Because sometimes your best season isn't the league's best season. Statistically, this has been Wade's best season. He has no doubt been valuable to the Heat. Yet, as we've discussed in the space throughout the season, being an MVP is often more than stats. No season epitomized this more than 1961-62, when Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.2 points per game and Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double, yet it was Bill Russell whom the players voted MVP.

So what of this season's other MVP candidates? Have they had better statistical seasons than the ones they're having now and not won MVP? For clarity's sake, let's take a quick look at the top five from this season using the triple-double stats: points, rebounds and assists.

LeBron James, 2007-08: 30.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.2 apg -- 45.1 total
MVP that season: Kobe Bryant, 28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg -- 40.0 total

Kobe Bryant, 2005-06: 35.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.5 apg -- 45.2 total
MVP: Steve Nash, 18.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 10.5 apg -- 33.5 total

Dwight Howard, 2007-08: 20.7 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 1.3 apg -- 36.2 total
MVP: Bryant

Dwyane Wade, 2008-09: 28.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 7.2 apg -- 40.9 total
MVP: TBD

Chris Paul, 2008-09: 21.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 11.1 apg -- 37.6 total
MVP: TBD

With these basic elements, it's easy to see where Wade's fans are coming from. But the MVP, clearly, is not always the one with the best statistical season.

So keep arguing. We're listening. Questions, comments? You can mail us at RacetotheMVP@gmail.com.

Hoops Line of the Week: Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Jan. 23: 46 points, 15 boards and four assist vs. L.A. Clippers.

Nice line by Durant, which included a 24-for-26 performance from the line. But the Thunder, being the Thunder, lost 107-104.

Rise of the week: Dwyane Wade, Brandon Roy, Kevin Garnett (all one spot)
Drop of the week: Yao Ming (two spots to No. 10)

Race to the MVP - The Top 10
1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers | Team Record: 35-9
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
27.8 7.5 7.0 2.0 1.3 .490 .768
Last Week's Rank - 1
Wow, the Sports Illustrated cover jinx works quickly these days. For the first three games of the week, LeBron's numbers were off the charts (29.3 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 9.3 apg), but the poor showing against the Magic in Orlando one day after he was on SI's cover put a damper on the week.

2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers | Team Record: 35-9
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
26.2 5.6 5.2 1.3 0.4 .474 .864
Last Week's Rank - 2
Kobe may be No. 2 here, but his jersey is No. 1. As for the Lakers, they were coming off a string of four consecutive wins, including an impressive triumph over the Spurs before blowing a home game to the Bobcats. Kobe and Co. have a killer six-game road trip starting in Minnesota on Friday.

3. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic | Team Record: 35-10
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
20.1 13.9 1.4 1.0 3.1 .564 .588
Last Week's Rank - 3
An impressive performance from Howard and the Magic on Thursday. That and Howard has been a model of consistency as he scored 22 points in each of Orlando's last three games. His 38 rebounds for the week weren't too shabby, either.

4. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat | Team Record: 25-19
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
28.5 5.0 7.2 2.2 1.5 .478 .751
Last Week's Rank - 5
A very nice week for Mr. Wade and the Heat as they upended three Southeast Division rivals: Orlando, Atlanta and Washington. A lot of that was thanks to Wade, of course, who had averaged 25.3 points and 7.3 assists per game.

5. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets | Team Record: 28-14
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
21.1 5.4 11.1 2.8 0.2 .496 .870
Last Week's Rank - 4
Another tough loss for the Hornets, tripped up in Minnesota, but Paul helps his squad rebound from tough performances as well as anyone. Paul dropped 27 points, 15 dimes and 10 boards on the Sixers. Oh, and seven steals. It was his second triple-double with seven steals this month.

6. Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets | Team Record: 28-15
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
18.8 2.7 6.5 1.5 0.3 .415 .903
Last Week's Rank - 6
As great as Billups has been this season, he sometimes has trouble with younger, quicker guards like the guy in the spot ahead of him. Still, Billups has been nothing short of sensational and that's why he's going to Phoenix as an All-Star.

7. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs | Team Record: 31-14
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
20.6 10.4 3.6 0.5 1.8 .516 .688
Last Week's Rank - 7
The Spurs had a tough start to their recent three-game road trip with a loss to the Lakers, but Duncan nearly had a triple-double against Utah (24 points, 9 boards and 8 assists) and they once again broke the Suns' hearts on Thursday. The Spurs host the Hornets on Saturday, before -- yeehaw! -- they head out for eight games on their annual rodeo trip.

8. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers | Team Record: 28-17
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
22.4 4.7 5.1 1.2 0.4 .469 .819
Last Week's Rank - 9
A perfect week for Roy and the Blazers, going 3-0 against teams they should have gone 3-0 against: the Wizards, Clippers and Bobcats. Against the Wizards, Roy nearly had a triple-double with 22 points, 10 assists and seven dimes, but his most impressive performance may have been his dunk on the Clippers' Cheikh Samb.

9. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics | Team Record: 38-9
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
16.2 9.0 2.7 1.2 1.2 .524 .842
Last Week's Rank - 10
Kind of an easy week for the Celtics. They had only two games and they beat Dallas and Sacramento by a combined 43 points. KG absolutely destroyed Dirk Nowitzki on both ends as he hit a season-high 11 shots en route to 23 points and held Nowitzki to 4 of 17 shooting. Valuable? You don't say.

10. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets | Team Record: 28-19
PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
19.5 9.5 1.8 0.4 1.6 .539 .867
Last Week's Rank - 8
A rough, rough week for the Rockets center, who sat out two games with a sore right knee. In the two games he played, the Rockets lost both and he scored a combined 21 points on 7-for-18 shooting.

Outside Looking In (OLI)
11. Dirk Nowitzki
12. Joe Johnson
13. Pau Gasol
14. Jameer Nelson
15. Tayshaun Prince
16. Paul Pierce
17. Devin Harris
18. Steve Nash
19. Amar'e Stoudemire
20. Tony Parker

Readers' favorites: Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Danny Granger, Al Jefferson, Chris Bosh, Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, Rodney Stuckey, Mo Williams

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