Head Games: The Return of Flash
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SECAUCUS, N.J., Dec. 11, 2007 -- Every Tuesday morning, I sit at my laptop and I begin writing Race to the MVP. From time to time, I find myself looking to squeeze a player onto the list. Today, the player I was trying to justify being on or off the rankings was Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Here is how the conversation played out in my head.

Maurice: How does a guy who just last season was near the top of every preseason prediction list for MVP candidates not even get a mention in your top 20?

Mo: He doesn’t get to make the list just because he used to be the man.

Maurice: You sound stupid. He was named the Finals MVP after leading a Heat team that wasn’t that strong to the title in just his third season.

Mo: And how did he follow that up? By playing in just 51 games last season. He missed 23 games with a dislocated left shoulder, the Heat got swept out of the playoffs by the Bulls and he followed that up by having shoulder and knee surgery in the offseason. While trying to recover from going under the knife, he also missed the first seven games of this season.

Line of the Week
Allen Iverson, Nuggets
Loss vs. Lakers, December 5
51 points (18-for-27), 8 assists
Maurice: I understand all of that, but that is in the past. Look at how he is balling right now. There is no way you can tell me he’s not one of the top handful of players in the Association. The Heat just beat the Suns on Monday and they have won back-to-back games. He has scored at least 30 points in three straight games and for the season is averaging 22.7 points, 6.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. He has also posted at least nine assists in four of his past five outings. Get on the bandwagon before it is too late, that way you can say, “told you so” and look like you know your stuff.

Mo: So, I guess it doesn’t matter to you that Miami has the third fewest wins in the league or that before this most recent hot streak, Wade wasn’t exactly playing lights out?

Maurice: Nope.

To make a long story short, Mo won and Wade didn’t make it onto the list. Putting this exercise on paper did make me question my sanity though. You know what they say; You're not crazy if you talk to yourself, only if you answer yourself back.

  • E-mail your feedback or talk about it in the R2MVP open forum.

    Race to the MVP - The Top 10
    1. Dwight Howard, Orlando | Team Record: 16-6
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    23.1 15.2 1.4 0.9 2.9 .613 .607
  • Last Week's Rank - 1
    Yes, it is still real early in the season, but the Beast of the East has been so dominant that the stats he put up in Monday night's loss to the Hawks - 14 points, 18 rebounds, two blocks, two steals - are considered a disappointing game.

  • 2. Kevin Garnett, Boston | Team Record: 17-2
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.5 10.9 3.7 1.6 1.8 .554 .824
  • Last Week's Rank - 2
    Sure the Celtics are loaded, but the biggest reason KG keeps his lofty position in the rankings when other players have equally as impressive stats is because of the intangibles he brings to the table. He tutors the younger players, works harder than everyone else on the court, carries himself in a professional manner and has completely changed the culture surrounding the Celtics.

  • 3. Steve Nash, Phoenix | Team Record: 16-6
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.6 3.5 12.4 0.6 0.1 .511 .946
  • Last Week's Rank - 4
    I know it is the holiday season and all, but Nash has taken giving to an all-time height. He has handed out at least 14 assists in seven straight games for the Suns.

  • 4. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers | Team Record: 12-8
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    27.2 6.1 5.1 2.0 0.6 .460 .846
  • Last Week's Rank - 6
    Bryant, who hasn't averaged less than 30 points a game for a season since 2004-05, has the Lakers riding a three-game winning streak. Another positive, the trade talks have died down.

  • 5. Chris Paul, New Orleans | Team Record: 14-7
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    21.0 4.0 9.8 2.9 0.1 .485 .917
  • Last Week's Rank - 8
    There may not be a better performance this season than the one Paul had on Friday against the Grizzlies. He scored a career-high 43 points (five 3-pointers), made the game-winning shot with 1.8 seconds left in OT and still found time to hand out nine dimes and make four thefts.

  • 6. Carlos Boozer, Utah | Team Record: 13-8
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    25.1 11.4 3.1 1.1 0.6 .579 .771
  • Last Week's Rank - 5
    The Jazz have been struggling lately, dropping three decisions in a row. I know numbers don't tell the entire story, but Boozer hasn't had a bad game all season.

  • 7. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio | Team Record: 17-3
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    21.2 4.9 4.5 1.8 0.4 .478 .840
  • Last Week's Rank - 12
    Who needs Tim Duncan? With the Big Fundamental sidelined because of injury, Ginobili handled the added responsibilities. The smooth-shooting guard posted back-to-back games of 37 points and filled up the box score with steals, rebounds and assists. The Spurs, who have the best record in the West, have won five straight.

  • 8. Paul Pierce, Boston | Team Record: 17-2
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    20.2 5.4 5.4 1.7 0.3 .455 .803
  • Last Week's Rank - 11
    KG is the biggest reason for the turnaround in Boston, but don't overlook the contributions of Pierce, who leads the team in steals, assists and points.

  • 9. Allen Iverson, Denver | Team Record: 13-8
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    25.3 3.0 7.5 2.4 0.1 .464 .806
  • Last Week's Rank - 15
    The three-game stretch that The Answer put together last week reminded me of the good 'ol days in Philadelphia. He had 51 points and eight assists in a loss to the Lakers, followed by 35 and 12 in a win over the Mavs and 23 and 10 in a victory against the Kings.

  • 10. LeBron James, Cleveland | Team Record: 9-12
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    30.7 7.6 8.1 1.9 1.5 .486 .706
  • Last Week's Rank - 3
    Rejoice Cleveland fans, after a five-game hiatus, the King is back.
  • On the Outside Looking In (averages - last week's rank)
    11. Tracy McGrady (HOU): 24.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.5 APG - (7)
    12. Deron Williams (UTA): 21.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 8.9 APG - (13)
    13. Baron Davis (GSW): 23.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG. 8.5 APG - (14)
    14. Dirk Nowitzki (DAL): 21.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.8 APG - (16)
    15. Carmelo Anthony (DEN): 24.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.2 APG - (10)
    16. Tony Parker (SAS): 20.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6.9 APG - (18)
    17. Tim Duncan (SAS): 17.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.6 APG - (9)
    18. Yao Ming (HOU): 21.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.2 APG - (17)
    19. Caron Butler (WAS): 22.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.7 APG - (NR)
    20. Stephen Jackson (GSW): 21.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.0 APG - (NR)
  • Dropped out: Jason Kidd (Nets), Shawn Marion (Suns).

  • Running the Floor

    Howard
    Dirk Nowitzki is the face of the Mavericks franchise, but the way that Josh Howard is playing right now, that may soon change. Howard is averaging almost 26 points per game over his last seven contests, including exploding for a career-best 47 against the Jazz on Saturday. For the season, he is averaging a team-leading 22.4 points, while pulling down 7.2 rebounds. While Nowitzki is still the first choice in the Dallas offense, there is no way Howard can be considered a second option. We'll call them options 1A and 1B and hopefully this new plan of attack works out better in the postseason than the game plan used last year against the Warriors.