Words by Phlip
We’re at the point where teams have played 47-52ish games, meaning we have seen 75% of the season pass us by quite quickly.
As things heat up (or cool off for some) for the playoffs, I was thinking this past weekend about who I would vote for in the MVP race if I had a vote. It came down to only four names…
· LeBron James
· Kevin Durant
· Kobe Bryant
· Kevin Love
As a matter of décor, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not going to make the playoffs without Ricky Rubio, so Kevin Love can KEEP having 30/20 games like he did against Denver and he is out. We will revisit that issue if something magic happens in this last 4 weeks of basketball, but likely we should not until next year. I do find it amazing that he could have one of those nights every time he touches the floor though. When Minnesota becomes a legitimate playoff contender – when Rubio returns healthy next season – expect Kevin Love to remain in the MVP conversation. This season, though, he will have to settle for 1st-team All NBA and All-Defensive as well.
Next out is Kobe Bryant…
Yes, I am a Lakers fan and always have been and Kobe is leading the league in scoring and his knee/wrist/finger issues are but a distant splotch in the past of our memories.
He shoots and misses a ton, the team has only recently figured out the righting of the ship, and even then sometimes lose to lesser opponents. We’ve seen Kobe slyly speak to the media about being unhappy with management and pulling the “I’m talking, but I will stop short of anything provocative” maneuver with his own coach. For an award given by the media, part of the onus in receiving it is to be likeable by said media, and comparatively speaking Kobe is squandering a chance with his teammates/management’s help.
… and now it gets fun…
Between Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who wins this award will come down to JUST how long the media is willing to hold a grudge against LeBron for “The Decision” and how much they remember him playing ‘scared turtle’ in the NBA finals last June.
Kevin Durant can score at will and in ANY kind of way; with and without the ball, from ANY spot on the floor, creates his own shot and others’ shots and it all lends itself to an offensive skillset not seen since… um… Scottie Pippen?
The rap against Durant, though, was that he was physically weak defensively and got muscled for rebounds by shorter/smaller Small Forwards and utterly ABUSED by those with some weight on them. Apparently he heard the talk, as he is a slightly larger 235 pounds this season, and is seeing his rebounding numbers up to 8.1 on this season from his career average of 6.6. Not that it matters for a scorer on his level on a team with a top-10 point guard, but his assists are also up. All that said, even though his scoring numbers are down on the season, everything else is up and it is showing in the win column.
And then there’s ‘Bron…
Statistically speaking, his season is about identical to Durant’s, as scoring and rebounding goes, and 27ish points and 8+ rebounds a game is nothing to snort at from the SF position at all. LeBron’s assists almost double Durant’s though. LeBron is also getting it done without a top-level PG on his team as well. Addressing issues leveled against him for his shot selection and allergy to taking the ball into the post; he has gone down low [||] and shaken his predilection for ill-advised jumpshots after dribbling 15+ seconds off the clock all while remaining an important cog in one of the most entertaining duos in the NBA right now.
God, it pains me to speak positively of this dude.
Since the media does not give “Co-MVP” awards, and only one of these gentlemen can win it, I am sticking to my prior predictions that the whole “swagger” thing that sportscasters and rappity-rap kids seem to hold so important will see to it that LeBron James takes home his 3rd MVP award. This is contingent, of course, upon the media even partially putting aside “The Decision” to make their votes.
Now, if head-to-head is the way they decide who takes it (which I was once inclined to doubt it will come to), then the second game between them on 04/04 will be the deciding factor, and only if LeBron plays lights-out in a Heat win, as he was handily outplayed a couple weeks back by Durant and Durant’s Thunder teammates.
The long-and-short, here, is that LeBron WAS in the enviable position to take home another MVP award, barring injury, meltdown or an EPIC comeback on the part of the Minnesota Timberwolves as led by Kevin Love. Then they played the Thunder, and continued into an UGLY streak of games while OKC trended in the other direction.
I have actually changed the tone of this scribe since initially writing it, as before the 3/25 game. Tonight’s game and both teams’ responses to it will be the difference maker. If the Miami Heat’s last few games are any indication, Kevin Durant is working on a comeback victory for the MVP.