Cohen: Chase for the MVP

By Josh Cohen
January 6, 2011

Throughout the course of the NBA season, I will provide an analysis for each player in the chase for the MVP.

1 Whether it was inspiration from the two blockbuster trades or just simply a recharge of his Superman powers, but irrespective, Dwight Howard has restored the No. 1 spot in the MVP rankings with his superb play.

Like Shaquille O’Neal did during his MVP season in 1999-00, Howard is overwhelming the competition and outshining anyone who tries contending with him in the paint. D12 had three straight 20-plus rebound efforts immediately after the trades and now has a string of three straight performances of 22 or more points.

As long as the Magic keep winning, it’s going to be difficult to surpass Howard in my book.
2 Not since Kevin Garnett was dealt to Boston in 2007 has one player redefined his new team like Amar’e Stoudemire has done this season for New York.

There have been very few instances in NBA history where the addition of one player has transformed a franchise from a complete calamity to playoff worthy.

While LeBron James has expectedly helped Miami revive its organization, Stoudemire has unpredictably refurbished a team that hasn’t been in the postseason since 2004. The statistics are there and the wins are as well. STAT is definitely an MVP contender.
3 Sometimes the absence of a team’s best player can help his MVP stock. As soon as Dirk Nowitzki suffered a knee injury, Dallas struggled and lost three straight, including contests against Toronto and Milwaukee.

Although ultimately Dirk will have to return and restore the Mavericks’ winning culture, for now, the nine-time NBA All-Star remains a viable MVP candidate because his nonattendance resulted in a team setback.
4 The Heat have transformed into the team that many NBA observers expected them to be when they formed a house of megastars over the summer.

While it’s almost unnecessary to analyze whether Dwyane Wade or LeBron James is the catalyst to Miami’s resurgence, if I had pick a more justifiable MVP candidate, I would side with Wade because it seems unreasonable for a player of his caliber to have not won a regular season MVP award yet.
5 Like I composed in Dwyane Wade’s box, LeBron James has helped the Heat overcome early season turbulence. The thought before the start of the season was that LeBron would have to average a triple-double for him to have a serious chance at capturing his third straight MVP award.

While that is not going to happen (currently averaging 24.8 points, 7.3 assists, 6.8 rebounds), James conquering the extreme adversity to help guide Miami to a 28-9 record may be a reasonable alternative for him to ultimately end up with the honor.
6 If Derrick Rose played in the league during the 90’s or early part of this century, he would categorically be the best point guard in the NBA. But with today’s game filled with many superlative floor generals, it’s hard to recognize Rose’s rising prominence.

It’s virtually impossible to conclude which of today’s elite point guards – Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, etc. – is the absolute best. Rose, nonetheless, is the most prolific. As a result, his flashiness may award him a higher MVP candidacy than the others.
7 Any player that racks up a triple-double in just his third game back after missing seven straight games with a sprained ankle deserves some attention.

Rajon Rondo, like I emphasized in Derrick Rose’s abstract, sometimes gets lost in the MVP mix because of how many first-rate point guards are currently in the NBA. His playmaking skills and court awareness is almost unprecedented.

If anyone told me back when the Celtics won the NBA title in 2008 that it would be Rondo and not KG, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen as a potential MVP candidate in 2011, I would have said they are a few cards short of a full deck.
8 If you lead the NBA in scoring, you have to be in the discussion for the Most Valuable Player award. I realize that is very narrow-minded, but reputation sometimes is based on a player’s ability to keep the scoreboard active.

Kevin Durant, as most NBA observers expected after capturing the scoring crown last season, leads the league in scoring average (27.9) and has Oklahoma City continuing to blossom into one of the better teams in the West.
9 In spite of several surprising losses, Kobe Bryant continues to play at a supreme level for the Lakers. There seems to be some turmoil in the two-time defending champs’ locker room, but let’s face it, as long as Kobe remains a relentless player, L.A. will still be the favorites to come out of the West.
10 Up until losses to three of the premier teams in the East (Magic, Knicks, Celtics) over the last two weeks, the Spurs were viewed as a legitmate powerhouse. Now it seems, critics are suggesting San Antonio just were beating up on bad teams over the first two months of the season.

Nonetheless, Manu Ginobili is healthy and has buried several clutch shots for the Spurs to keep them in first place in the Western Conference.

Who do you think is the MVP right now?
Who do you think is the MVP right now?
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