MID-SEASON SPECIAL - MOST VALUABLE PLAYER CANDIDATES
Jan 2, Steve Kerr
It's that time of the year again, as most of the NBA is at halfway with some teams catching up on lost time because of the damn schedule. And it's a great time because we have now seen which players are doing what for their teams, hence giving us the chance to analyse who is in the running for the NBA's MVP award for 2004-05.
Here is a list of the seven most deserving players for the award. Enjoy.
KOBE BRYANT | SG | LA LAKERS | No. 8
13 GP | 13 GS | 33.4 PPG | 8.1 RPG | 7.7 APG | 4.23 SPG | .515 FG%
Let's start with the favourite to win it. He might not be the most likeable guy in the running for the NBA's MVP award but his play of recent which earned him December NBA Player of the Month honours has been intriguring. His stats are mind-bogling and its hard right now not to make comparisons and stories about the second coming of 'you know who.' If stats alone can win the MVP, this is Kobe's year.
1st in scoring, 1st in steals, 4th in assists, 1st in free throws attempted and made, 1st in field goals made, shooting over 50% for the first time ever for a season, 1st amongst all guards in rebounding and the player who is keeping the Lake Show alive and enjoyable. What more can you ask for from him? And what's more... he's guranteeing the playoffs for his 6-8 Lakers.
GM Sit's Take on Bryant: "Kobe can score from all over the court, he crashes the glass, plays and controls the passing lanes along with unlimited hustle every game he plays... Definately the player to give your franchise to."
KEVIN GARNETT | PF/SF | MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES | No. 21
16 GP | 16 GS | 20.9 PPG | 11.8 RPG | 3.7 APG | 1.56 SPG | 1.81 BPG
The kid is now a man and leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to the playoffs. Kevin Garnett's stellar play from all around the court has his team and opponents feeling the big man's presence. Garnett has been invaluable to the team's play on both ends of the floor and the reason for Minnesota's NBA leading 12-4 record is because of him alone.
Garnett is scoring efficiently with his repatoure of inside moves and mid range jumpers and shooting 51% from the field. His rebounding ranks 5th around the League and his blocking and stealing averages are part of the top ranks in both statistical categories.
Coach Flip Saunders Take on Garnett: "Kevin is a rare player and he is redefining the power forward position. About 10 years ago, the classic Power Forward was Karl Malone but now the Big Ticket has many other players behind him bringing versatility into the position's definition. He is a hall of famer and maybe this season, he will become a legend because I believe he can lead us to that trophy!"
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL | C | MIAMI HEAT | No. 32
11 GP | 11 GS | 22.6 PPG | 13.8 RPG | 2.45 BPG | 41.5 MPG
When Shaquille O'neal was in Los Angeles alongside kobe, he was always a MVP contender. This year without Kobe is no different. The Heat are only a bit over 50% but it must be noted they are one of the only teams to have played a quarter of the season. And already they are riding Shaq's back.
The 7'1" monster is coming 11th in scoring and playing the 5th most minutes per game in the NBA. However, the giant has refound his defensive game which has always been lacking in the city of angels where Shaq had defensive slumps. In Florida, Shaq is 1st in the NBA for rebounding and patrolling the paint by ranking 2nd in blocks per game.
Coach Pat Riley's Take on O'neal: "Shaq is the most dominant center in the league today. Yao Ming will take many seasons to surpass the big guy on my team and right now we will rely on Shaq as long as his body holds. He's 32 and can still ball with the best of them... Shaq is in his prime."
ANTOINE WALKER | PF | ATLANTA HAWKS | No. 8
11 GP | 11 GS | 29.1 PPG | 10.9 RPG | 4.4 APG | 1.55 SPG | 1.64 BPG | .510 FG% | .356 3PT% | 42.9 MPG
As seen in Kobe's case, stats may be able to win the MVP award. Walker has that same argument here- he is definately the best player on his squad and is relied on heavily as he plays the second most minutes a game- second only to Al Harrington who is his teammate. Walker is 2nd in the League in scoring, 9th in rebounding and his passing and defence are as good as Kevin Garnett's.
Walker's stats are great all around and his efficiency from the field and behind the three point line have greatly improved but many will ask, "What do you expect when you are on the Hawks?" The hawks are currently 4-7.
Al Harrington's Take on Walker: "Many people dismiss the fact that Antoine is a legitimate MVP because of his past. Trust me, he is a great influence on and off the court and he's improved so much this season. Many insiders also say he gets good stats on a bad team but they never think about the fact that Antoine gets his stats regardless of constant double and triple teams... He is just that good."
TIM DUNCAN | PF/C | SAN ANTONIO SPURS | No. 21
11 GP | 11 GS | 17.6 PPG | 11.5 RPG | 2.45 BPG | .529 FG%
Tim Duncan's statistics aren't jaw dropping but everyone who watches and analyses the NBA will all acknwoledge that his value to his team is overwhelming. When Duncan was injured earlier in the season, his team lost all three of those games. Currently at 9-5, the Spurs are looking like they will make the playoffs behind Duncan's consistent play.
Leading his own team in scoring, coming 6th in rebounding and tying with with Heat center Shaquille O'neal in blocks per game, Duncan is a household name for this award every year since he entered the League.
Kevin Garnett's take on Duncan: "Timmy Duncan is a great guy to play basktball against and also to talk to. The guy is a two time champion and proven NBA MVP. I have only known him better for a little while but I admire his work ethic and part of the reason of my development has been because of him."
DIRK NOWITZKI | F/C | DALLAS MAVERICKS | No. 41
13 GP | 13 GS | 23.2 PPG | 8.2 RPG | 1.85 BPG | .544 FG% | .386 3PT% | .926 FT%
Everyone knows who Dirk Nowitzki is. He's a German scoring machine. The 7 footer with a soft touch has also improved his defensive play including his blocking ability which shows from being more aggresive on court. But his strength remains on offence where he is shooting very efficiently and ranks 9th in the NBA for scoring per game.
His team leads their division 9-4 thanks to his consistent effort on the offensive end. Nowitzki should truly be credited for keeping the Mavs at the top of the League Standings despite the departure of a great teammate in Steve Nash, whom he was sad to see leave but got over it to post great stats for the first half of this season.
Don Nelson's Take on Nowitzki: "I remember when we (Dallas) were trying to trade for Shaq and when the lakers said they would only deal for Dirk I knew I hade to say no. When people ask why I would always say, "Shaq is a great player but Dirk is our future. Why get Shaq for two or three years when you have Dirk for the next ten?"
LeBRON JAMES | SF/G | CLEVELAND CAVILIERS| No. 23
12 GP | 12 GS | 23.5 PPG | 7.3 RPG | 5.7 APG | 2.00 SPG
Lebron is our wildcard entry but he's no slouch either. The super soph is putting up enough points to rank 7th in the League and his steals per game are ranked 11th. His rebounding skill is only surpassed by Kobe Bryant and his incredible vision on-court is still surprising to most basketball fans.
Lebron is the real deal and his Cavs may only be at 7-5 but remember that he gets nearly no help from his 'teammates' and his only good sidekick ditched him for Utah. Bron's shooting percentage at 46% will need to improve but once he learns how to shoot better, Lebron James might truly be known as 'The King.'
Magic Johnson's Take on James: "Lebron is a very special player. Maybe much more special than Kobe. I see that he has a blend of my, Michael (Jordan) and John Stockton's games in him and he has the skills to become something great."
- Jalen Rose, TOR
- Paul Pierce, BOS
- Antawn Jamison, WAS
- Kenyon Martin, DEN
- Damon Stoudamire, POR
- Zach Rudolph, POR
- Yao Ming, HOU
- Ron Artest, IND
- Andrei Kirilenko, UTH
- Stephon Marbury, NY
- Grant Hill, ORL
- Steve Nash, PHO