Who Else Can Win?
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March 11, 2008 -- I donít know about you, but Iím getting a little bit tired of debating the greatness of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on a daily basis.

Sure, the first 50 or so times I wrote about the two best players in the world knocking heads for the biggest individual prize in the game was exciting, but now, just like supersizing value meals at McDonald's and watching reruns of Seinfeld, it is time to move on.

Letís take a look at the next five Ė the Hornetís Chris Paul, Magicís Dwight Howard, Celticsí Kevin Garnett, Spursí Tim Duncan and Rocketsí Tracy McGrady Ė and see what they have to do to win the MVP trophy.

Paul
Heíll win the MVP if: Kobe and LeBron falter down the stretch. From all reports, he is a good guy both on and off the court, his team is enjoying a super season and his stats are off the charts.

Howard
Heíll win the MVP if: people start paying closer attention to him and less attention to the other lead candidates. Despite his monster year, the red-hot buzz he had in the first half of the season has cooled off lately. Personally, I've been riding Superman's cape all season and he hasn't given me a reason to stop now.

Garnett
Heíll win the MVP if: voters reward the best player on the best team, the person who turned a franchise around and put the ďDĒ in defense for the Celtics.

Duncan
Heíll win the MVP if: voters decide to reward him for a decade of excellence. He has led the Spurs to the top mark in the West, but depending on who you talk to, some people feel Manu Ginobili has taken over the role as top dog.

McGrady
Heíll win the MVP if: the Rockets win their remaining 19 games to end the season on an all-time best 38-game winning streak. OK, the chances of that happening arenít likely, but McGrady is going to get a vote or two for having Houston in position to challenge for the top spot in the West. He has to overcome the fact that he has missed 15 games this season and was playing second fiddle to Yao for most of the year.

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

    Biggest drop of the week: Carlos Boozer, Jazz (-6).
    Biggest rise of the week: Tracy McGrady, Rockets (+7).

    Race to the MVP - The Top 10

    1. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers | Team Record: 44-19
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    28.1 6.1 5.3 2.0 0.5 .464 .844
  • Last Week's Rank - 1
    I was going to wax poetic about Bryant's all-around exploits until I noticed that my boy Dave McMenamin had already said all there is to say about Kobe.

  • 2. LeBron James, Cleveland | Team Record: 37-27
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    30.8 8.1 7.4 2.0 1.0 .485 .716
  • Last Week's Rank - 2
    The MVP race between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James is comparable to my two all-time favorite television shows. Just like The Sopranos, Bryant may end up collecting the big postseason award, even though The Wire and James produce a better product than their more popular counterparts.

  • 3. Chris Paul, New Orleans | Team Record: 42-20
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    21.3 4.0 11.0 2.7 0.0 .487 .883
  • Last Week's Rank - 3
    In most other seasons, the way Paul has resurrected the city of New Orleans with his play would be good enough to get him the MVP award. This year, just like his nickname, he will be CP3 or third.

  • 4. Dwight Howard, Orlando | Team Record: 44-24
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    21.8 14.4 1.3 1.0 2.3 .603 .598
  • Last Week's Rank - 4
    I'm still trying to figure out why all of the bloggers, writers in the forums and some media members have stopped including Howard on the short list of serious MVP candidates. He is still in the top five in the NBA in rebounds, shooting and blocks for a team that is in first place.

  • 5. Kevin Garnett, Boston | Team Record: 50-12
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    18.8 9.8 3.5 1.4 1.3 .544 .798
  • Last Week's Rank - 8
    The early-season favorite for MVP is making a strong late push. I watched him rough up my Sixers for 26 points and 12 rebounds Monday night in just 31 minutes.

  • 6. Tim Duncan, San Antonio | Team Record: 44-19
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.7 11.6 3.2 0.8 1.9 .502 .724
  • Last Week's Rank - 5
    After winning 11 games in a row, the Spurs dropped two straight. Locked in a tight race with the Lakers for the top spot in the West, was it time to panic? Not when you have Timmy, who erupted for 23 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in a win over the Nuggets on Monday.

  • 7. Tracy McGrady, Houston | Team Record: 43-20
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    22.0 4.9 5.7 1.1 0.5 .444 .698
  • Last Week's Rank - 14
    McGrady has a lot of ground to make up in the race, but leading his team on a 19-game winning streak, shouldering the load in the absence of a fellow superstar and performing at an All-Star level are a good place to start.

  • 8. Paul Pierce, Boston | Team Record: 50-12
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    20.3 5.3 4.6 1.3 0.4 .450 .844
  • Last Week's Rank - 6
    The Celtics, who have strung together nine victories in a row, have reached the 50-win mark for the first time in 16 years. Is there anyone happier than Pierce, who a year ago was the leader of a squad heading nowhere?

  • 9. Deron Williams, Utah | Team Record: 42-22
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.1 3.0 10.3 1.1 0.3 .512 .791
  • Last Week's Rank - 13
    Since the All-Star break, D-Will has been the top point guard in the league. He has notched seven straight double-doubles and is currently the biggest reason for Utah's success.

  • 10. Steve Nash, Phoenix | Team Record: 41-22
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.5 3.5 11.5 0.7 0.1 .508 .900
  • Last Week's Rank - 9
    The Suns have been struggling lately, but don't blame Nash who has 42 assists in the past three games. On Sunday, he torched the Spurs' Tony Parker for 19 points, 14 dimes and five rebounds.
  • On the Outside Looking In (averages - last week's rank)
    11. Dirk Nowitzki (DAL): 23.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG. 3.8 APG - (10)
    12. Baron Davis (GSW): 22.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 7.9 APG - (12)
    13. Carlos Boozer (UTA): 21.5 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 3.0 APG - (7)
    14. Manu Ginobili (SAN): 20.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.7 APG - (15)
    15. Chauncey Billups (DET): 17.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 7.1 APG - (18)
    16. Allen Iverson (DEN): 26.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 7.2 APG - (11)
    17. Chris Bosh (TOR): 22.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.3 APG - (16)
    18. Antawn Jamison (WAS): 21.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.6 APG - (20)
    19. Amare Stoudemire (PHX): 24.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.3 APG - (17)
    20. Hedo Turkoglu (ORL): 19.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.9 APG - (NR)
  • Dropped out: Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets.

  • Running the Floor

    Malone
    The other day in a meeting, someone asked, "Who was the oldest player to be named MVP?" Being that he has won the award six times and looked like he was up there in age in all of those 1980 highlight clips, I blurted out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As it turns out, the former Lakers' great is actually fifth on the list.

    Karl Malone: 35 years, 10 months (1999)
    Michael Jordan: 35 years, 3 months (1998)
    Karl Malone: 33 years, 10 months (1997)
    Michael Jordan: 33 years, 3 months (1996)
    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 33 years, 1 month (1980)

    Race to the MVP Weekly Leaders
    Training Camp: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
    Preseason: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
    Week 1: Tracy McGrady, Rockets
    Week 2: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
    Week 3: Dwight Howard, Magic
    Week 4: Dwight Howard, Magic
    Week 5: Dwight Howard, Magic
    Week 6: Dwight Howard, Magic
    Week 7: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
    Week 8: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
    Week 9: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
    Week 10: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
    Week 11: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
    Week 12: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
    Week 13: Chris Paul, Hornets
    Week 14: LeBron James, Cavaliers
    Week 15: LeBron James, Cavaliers
    Week 16: LeBron James, Cavaliers
    Week 17: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
    Week 18: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
    Week 19: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
    Line of the Week
    LeBron James, Cavaliers
    Win vs. Knicks, March 5
    50 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals