Steve Nash - Phoenix Suns
Most Valuable Player

Named Western Conference Player of the Week twice ... Led the league in assists (10.4) and free-throw percentage (.921) ... Ranked sixth in double-doubles (43) ... Only the fourth NBA player to at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from behind the arc and 90 percent from the charity stripe, and qualify among the league leaders ... Four-time NBA All-Star named a starter for the first time in his 10-year career on Feb. 2.

Our take:
You've probably heard this argument a thousand times in the last few weeks, but there's no getting around it. Steve Nash did the same thing he did last year ... without Amare Stoudemire. When Amare went down, we all thought the Suns would just try to stay in the playoff picture until he came back. Well, we were dead wrong. The Suns did just fine without the big man and with several new players. Give Mike D'Antoni a lot of credit, but the Suns would not be nearly the team that they are without Steve Nash. Last season, we saw have valuable he was when he was out of the lineup. This year, he missed three games and the Suns went 0-3.

New year, same story. It's tough to argue differently.
-- John Schuhmann

From the media:
Nash simply would not let the Suns drop out of the NBA elite, even though these Suns -- with almost a whole new team in place and with Amare Stoudemire's season consisting of three games and two knee surgeries -- were not last season's 62-win Suns. Nash promptly dispelled the myth that he wouldn't be as effective without Stoudemire as his pick-and-roll finisher and produced his best statistical season yet, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor, better than 40 percent on 3-pointers and better than 90 percent from the line as one of seven Suns to record a career-best scoring average. As a result, Phoenix has 53 wins and has maintained one of the league's top four records all season, in spite of all the changes and a run of injuries that recently claimed new interior defensive anchor Kurt Thomas.

From the coach:
It's hard to say that this season is better than last because I think last year was as good as you can get, but I think it's just as good this year. He just figures out what the team needs and does it. He's scoring more points this year because, obviously without Amare's 26 points, he had to make them up. He takes his game up five points and distributes the other stuff. He's just a terrific player that's playing at the highest level you can play.
-- Mike D'Antoni

A fan's take:
For a team that has lost its top scorer to injury before the year even started, its only other post presence halfway through the year, lost their two biggest three-point threats to trades, and took on an almost completely new cast of characters, the Suns have played better than anyone expected. This is largely due to the play of Steve Nash, who has actually stepped-up his game from his MVP season last year. His incredible court vision, ability to drive and pass, and floor leadership, as well as his position at the top of the league in feild goal percentage, free throw percentage, three-point percentage and assists, shows everyone that through the worst kind of adversity, Steve can get his team to loftier heights than they have any right to reach.
-- Erika - Phoenix, Ariz.

The Numbers:
79 35.4 18.8 4.2 10.5 0.77 0.15 .512 .439 .921

Most Valuable Player - The Candidates:
Chauncey Billups - Detroit Pistons
Elton Brand - Los Angeles Clippers
Kobe Bryant - Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
Steve Nash - Phoenix Suns
Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas Mavericks
Dwyane Wade - Miami Heat

Others worth consideration: Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Shawn Marion

Most Improved Player
Rookie of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Sixth Man Award
Coach of the Year

Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images