March 4, 2008 -- For the past three seasons, the MVP trophy did not go to the best player in the league. Team success and getting teammates involved played a big part in the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki winning the honor last year and the Suns' Steve Nash earning the nod the two seasons before that.
With the Lakers' Kobe Bryant and the Cavaliers' LeBron James on top of the Race to the MVP list, it appears that won't be the case this season. Here is a quick look at some of Bryant and James' on-the-court accomplishments with the help of numbers.
24.9 Bryant's career scoring average through 844 games.
27.2 Jamesí career scoring average through 370 games.
38,387 Career points by NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
13 At his current pace, how many more seasons it will take for James to pass Abdul-Jabbar.
20,989 Career points scored by Bryant (25th all time).
12 Seasons Bryant, who has won two scoring titles, has been in the league.
0 Number of scoring titles for James.
2.1 Points per game lead James (30.3) has over Bryant (28.2) in the current race for the league scoring crown.
10,000 James recently became the youngest player to score 10,000 career points (23 years, 59 days). Bryant was the old record holder (24 years, 194 days).
1988 Before James accomplished the feat last month, that was the last year a player (Lakersí Magic Johnson) posted triple-doubles on consecutive days twice in the same season.
2 The number of consecutive times James has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Month. Bryant was chosen as the Western Conference Player of the Month for February.
13 The amount of wins the Lakers had in 15 games in February.
12 The amount of wins the Lakers have since acquiring Pau Gasol 14 games ago.
52 Points scored by Bryant, including 30 in the fourth quarter and overtime, in the Lakersí 108-104 win against the Mavericks on Sunday.
22 Amount of 50-point games in Bryantís career.
42 The Lakers victory total this season (42-18), equaling the amount of wins they posted all of last season.
34 The Cavaliers victory total this season (34-26).
3 NBA championship rings owned by Bryant.
1 Eastern Conference title owned by James.
0 Combined times Bryant and James have been named league MVP, although that number will change for one of those players in a couple of months.
Last Week's Rank - 1 Not everyone believes Kobe should be the leader in the Race to the MVP. Thanks to Bryant, who has regained his status as one of the best individual defenders in the league, the Lakers have won 11 of 12 and are leading the West in victories.
Last Week's Rank - 2
James averages more points, rebounds and assists than Bryant and he shoots at a higher percentage. Cleveland's record and the fact that he plays in the East are the only two factors that can prevent him from being named MVP.
Last Week's Rank - 3
As the Knicks found out Monday night, when Paul makes up his mind to take over a game, there is nothing an opponent can do about it. He made two key baskets and assisted on another, to power the Hornets' 10-0 game-ending run. The pass-first guard has been scoring more lately, tallying at least 20 points in five of his past six games.
Last Week's Rank - 4
The Magic won 40 games last season. Thanks to Howard's improvement, they are on pace to increase that victory total by 10 games this time around. Howard has been the league's best big man all season and if you couple that with the fact that Orlando is in position to capture the Southeast Division title, he is a lock to finish in the top five in the MVP voting.
Last Week's Rank - 7
Tony Parker is great and Manu Ginobili has been special all season, but the heart and soul of the Spurs is Duncan who has nine double-doubles in 11 games for San Antonio, which has won nine straight.
Last Week's Rank - 8
The underappreciated Pierce was already getting props for the way he blended so effortlessley with the additions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Now he will get the chance to show us how well he meshes with Sam Cassell.
Last Week's Rank - 9
Boozer has failed to reach double digits in rebounds in four of Utah's past five games. Still, the Jazz have won 16 straight and 18 out of 19 at home. That is their longest such streak since running off 20 in a row during the end of the 1997-98 season through the beginning of 1998-99.
Last Week's Rank - 10
The Celtics only won 24 games last season. Thanks to the defensive mentality KG brought to town, the boys in Green may win 60 this season and that may be enough to sway the MVP voters his way.
Last Week's Rank - 5
I'm pretty sure right now Nash is probably wishing he still had Shawn Marion filling the wing on the break instead of Shaquille O'Neal lumbering behind it. The Suns are just 2-4 since acquiring Shaq.
Last Week's Rank - 6
Nowitzki has been in an offensive groove, shaking loose for at least 23 points in 10 consecutive games. Results have been mixed since Dallas acquired Jason Kidd. The Mavericks have a record of 4-4 with their new playmaker running the show.
On the Outside Looking In (averages - last week's rank)
In back-to-back victories against the Grizzlies and Mavericks, Utah's Deron Williams handed out 19 and 20 assists, respectively. According to Elias, he is the first player to tally at least 39 assists over a two-game period since Golden State's Tim Hardaway dropped off 40 dimes in December of 1994.
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