This season, by everyone’s account, has been the best in years. The resurgence of the Boston Celtics has brought new life to the Eastern Conference, and the NBA. But the ultra-competitive Western Conference has the league’s best teams, and it’s two best players.
So starting at the very top, here’s my Top 5 MVP list.
1. KOBE BRYANT. He’s changed his attitude, again improved his game and he was already referred to as the best all-around player in the league. He’s averaging 28.4 ppg (2nd in the NBA to LeBron’s 30.0) and adds 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists a game. Oh, and the Lakers won the Pacific Division and had the Western Conference’s best record.
2. CHRIS PAUL. He’s 23 and he’s already the league’s top point guard, averaging an astounding 11.6 assists this season. Without him, the Hornets miss the playoffs. With him, though, they challenge for the best record in conference and are on the verge of an NBA title. He’s a great player, but not the greatest player.
3. LeBRON JAMES. One-on-one, he’d likely take any player to the rack. And the Cavaliers are a joke without him, but Cleveland barely finished above .500 despite some retarded statistics from The King (30.0 ppg, 7.8 reb., 7.3 ast.). He’ll get his share of MVP awards, just not this year.
4. KEVIN GARNETT. His demand to be traded from Minnesota was an unreal boon for the Celtics, who haven’t had this kind of success since Larry Bird was making hall-of-famers out of all-star teammates. Garnett could do the same thing for Ray Allen and Paul Pierce if they win a title or two, which is exactly why Garnett won’t win another MVP: the Celtics collective greatness is too great.
5. TRACY McGRADY. The Rockets wouldn’t have attained such success this season without McGrady having his best season as a pro. His 21.8 ppg might have been below his career average, but his 5.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists were career highs. And the Rockets 22-game win streak without Yao Ming turned the league on its ear for more than a month.