Week 15
By Maurice Brooks
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SECAUCUS, N.J., Feb. 13, 2007 -- I've heard for years that you can't lose your starting position to injury. The same can't be said for the No. 1 spot in the Race to the MVP.

Yes, when the smoke clears and the dust settles, I honestly believe Phoenix's Steve Nash will still walk away with his third MVP trophy in a row.

But right now, 15 weeks into what has been a thrill-packed NBA season, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki has done just enough to pass Nash at the top of the player rankings.

Nash has been ranked No. 1 since Week 6. A strong argument can be made that Nash's worth to the Suns has actually gone up since Phoenix has struggled while he has been rehabbing his right shoulder.

With Nash sidelined for the past three-and-a-half games, the Suns are currently on a two-game skid.

While Suns fans are obviously disappointed to have Nash sidelined, NBA fans are equally disappointed. Nash is a no go for this weekend's All-Star Game and Playstation Skills Challenge.

Line of the Week
Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves)
February 11 vs. Celtics
26 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists
18th career triple-double

Nowitzki on the other hand, continues to be the key cog for the Mavericks. His numbers across the board rival that of anyone else in the league: 25 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 50 percent from the field and 90 percent from the foul line.

While his individual success is enough to move him near the top of the charts, the success of his team pushes him over the edge.

At 42-9, the Mavericks have the best record in the league. They've reeled off seven straight wins and won 15 of their past 16.

Dallas is 13-0 when he explodes for 30 or more points.

Here are the player rankings for the season through Feb. 12.

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    Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings
    1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    25.0 9.4 3.2 0.7 0.8 .498 .899
  • Last Week's Rank - 2
    The 42 wins by Dirk's crew is the most ever by the Mavericks at the All-Star break. They've also set a franchise record with 17 straight home victories.

  • 2. Steve Nash, Phoenix
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.3 3.3 11.8 0.7 0.1 .536 .882
  • Last Week's Rank - 1
    Nash's average of 11.8 assists per game this season is the most in the NBA since Utah's John Stockton handed out 12.3 dimes per contest in the 1994-95 season.

  • 3. Gilbert Arenas, Washington
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    29.0 4.7 6.2 1.9 0.1 .421 .840
  • Last Week's Rank - 3
    Sometimes it is better to be seen rather than heard. You can't predict you are going to score 50 points on Nate McMillan and the Blazers and then score just nine on 3-for-15 from the field, including 0-for-8 from 3-point range. Come on Gil, you're better than that.

  • 4. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    28.7 5.6 5.5 1.4 0.4 .469 .863
  • Last Week's Rank - 4
    Just when KB24 seemed ready to leapfrog Gilbert Arenas for the No. 3 spot, his Lakers went into a tailspin, dropping three games in a row. Even with Lamar Odom back in the lineup, Los Angeles is struggling, losing seven of its past 10.

  • 5. LeBron James, Cleveland
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    26.2 6.9 6.0 1.6 0.6 .473 .682
  • Last Week's Rank - 5
    Yes, LeBron's numbers are down recently but the only stat that matters to King James and Co. is victories. The Cavaliers (30-21) have won three in a row.

  • 6. Dwyane Wade, Miami
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    28.7 4.9 7.9 2.1 1.3 .492 .817
  • Last Week's Rank - 7
    It's a good time to be a Heat fan again. Pat Riley is returning to the bench, Shaq is healthy, Miami is winning again and D-Wade, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, is putting up eye-popping numbers.

  • 7. Tracy McGrady, Houston
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    23.7 5.2 6.1 1.2 0.5 .444 .699
  • Last Week's Rank - 6
    Scary thought for the rest of the league. As well as T-Mac's bunch has been playing, Yao Ming is on pace to return to the lineup in about a month.

  • 8. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    22.5 12.5 4.5 1.3 1.8 .476 .835
  • Last Week's Rank - 9
    With two triple-doubles in his last three games, KG is doing his best Jason Kidd impersonation. In the game where he didn't get a triple-double, he really slacked off only notching 20 points, 17 rebounds and six assists.

  • 9. Tim Duncan, San Antonio
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    20.4 10.8 3.5 0.8 2.3 .527 .644
  • Last Week's Rank - 8
    Hey Timmy, take a glance in your rear-view mirror. That object you see approaching quickly is T-Mac and the Rockets, who are only a half-game behind you in the West. Your squad is 5-5 in the last 10, including two straight losses. Get it together.

  • 10. Chris Bosh, Toronto
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    23.2 10.7 2.3 0.5 1.2 .504 .751
  • Last Week's Rank - 11
    Bosh, who erupted for a career-high 41 points in a win over the Magic on Wednesday, is just 10 double-doubles short of the Raptors team record of 110 held by Antonio Davis.
  • Close But No Cigar (season averages - last week's rank)
    11. Dwight Howard (ORL): 17.6 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 1.8 BPG - (14)
    12. Shawn Marion (PHX): 18.0 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.2 SPG - (11)
    13. Caron Butler (WAS): 20.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG. 3.8 APG - (13)
    14. Carmelo Anthony (DEN): 30.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.4 APG - (15)
    15. Josh Howard (DAL): 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG - (18)
    16. Zach Randolph (POR): 24.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.9 APG - (19)
    17. Deron Williams (UTA): 17.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 9.1 APG - (16)
    18. Jermaine O'Neal (IND): 19.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 3.0 BPG - (20)
    19. Jason Kidd (NJN): 14.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 8.7 APG - (17)
    20. Chauncey Billups (DET): 17.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 7.6 APG - (NR)
  • Dropped out: Carlos Boozer, Jazz.

  • Running the Floor

    Davis
    Warriors guard Baron Davis is scheduled to undergo surgery on his left knee on Tuesday. Davis, who hasn't played since Feb. 3, is averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 assists per game for Golden State. If he were healthy, Davis would have received strong consideration for one of the All-Star injury replacement spots in the West.
    Speaking of injuries, Allen Iverson's frustrating season continues. It was announced on Tuesday that the standout will miss the All-Star Game because of a sprained right ankle. A.I., who is an eight-time All-Star, has missed seven of the past eight games for the Nuggets.
    No, Chris Webber probably won't get any MVP votes, but with the way Detroit is balling right now, he should. The Pistons are as hot as any team in the league and thanks to C-Webb, they have their championship swagger back. Detroit has won seven straight and is 11-2 with Webber in the starting lineup.