We've just passed the mid-way point of the season and of course talk centres on who is the MVP favorite so far? Names such as Amar'e Stoudemire, Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki have been thrown out there but if we are really talking about truly MVP caliber seasons there is only two players in consideration. LeBron James and Derrick Rose. Already I can hear the catcalls and boos from disgruntled fans, "Has this guy already discounted the other guys as MVP's?" Yes, I have. There is no need to consider but two people for this award.
Don't get me wrong I'm in amazement of the numbers and the transformation of the Knicks, Amar'e deserves to be in the conversation,just to paraphrase ESPN's Mark Jackson, but when you look at the seasons both James and Rose are having there really was no choice in selecting these two as the current favorites and the two I think will be fighting it out at seasons end.
Let's start with Rose. The Chicago native has emerged as the League's best point guard this season. His pre-season statement about winning the MVP doesn't seem like false braggadocio right now. Plain and simple he is flat out balling at the moment. Look at the individual numbers, 24.7 points per, 8 assists and just under 5 rebounds is nothing to sneeze at. The Chicago Bulls have elevated their play to become one of the Top 4 teams in the Eastern Conference, all due to the play of Rose, and the improvement has been made with considerable games missed by Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Rose has shouldered the responsibility of leading his team and is playing at a Michael Jordan-esque level (yeah I said it), he refuses to let his team bow down to opposition. At least 5 times this season the Bulls have recorded wins coming back from at least 10 points down.
The worth of Derrick Rose to Chicago cannot be quantifed. He is worth more than just the numbers he puts up on the scoreboard nightly, Rose is undeniably the heart and soul of that Bulls team, as he goes so does Chicago. Their 30-14 record proves that they can cope with a sustained loss of either Boozer and/or Noah but in the one game the Bulls have played without their floor general this season? A comprehensive loss to the New York Knicks. Even his outside shot has improved so much so that defenders no longer sag off him like they once did. Unlike the Knicks who seem to have maxed their potential so far, the Bulls will only improve once they get their full compliment of players back for a push towards the playoffs. Meet Derrick Rose, one of two possible MVP winners this season……but the MVP so far has to go to this guy……
LeBron James. He may have "joined forces with the Kings" so they could "eat all day" (shout out to Rick Ross) but LeBron James is by far and away the best player in the NBA and his stats clearly reflect that. It's hard to top what the two-time defending MVP has already done in his award winning season but even with a supporting cast inclusive of two fellow All-Stars, James numbers have only taken a slight dip. Scoring is down as you would imagine it would be, but look at his other categories, pretty similar, 38 minutes per game (39 last season), 7.1 rebounds (7.3), 7.3 assists (8,6), 47% Fg ( 50%), 77% FT (76%) and even his three point shooting has improved slightly from last seasons 33% to 35% this season.
Take away the numbers for secod and just have a look at his impact with Miami, after the first 17 games where the balance of power hadn't been sorted on the Heat team to now where James is the clear leader of the Heat on the floor as they look to start building more momentum and cohesiveness towards playoff time. It was no surprise that the Heat's rise up the Eastern Conference was coincided with James also stepping up and staking his claim as leader of the Heat. James has come into Miami, trying fit in with a whole new roster and is still putting up almost identical numbers to last season? This is a no brainer really. And just in case you forgot his worth to both Miami and Cleveland, the Heat won 47 games total last season -they have 31 already this year) and the Cavaliers (8-35) are just aiming to win a game right now let alone contend for anything.
My theory is for the reigning MVP to lose his title someone needs to step up and have year which is mindblowingly better than the previous years MVP, as good as Derrick Rose is playing, he is not having a better year than James last season, or this season for that matter. The award still goes to LeBron James, simply for doing what he normally does. Rose will have his time, and is a deserved contender this year, but for the moment, James reigns supreme.