The NBA regular season is now over and most of us will begin to turn our attention to the highly anticipated playoffs where we will be witnessing some epic battles this time round.
With the likes of the Brooklyn Nets matching the Chicago Bulls, and the Los Angeles Lakers scraping the seventh seed to avoid the Oklahoma City Thunder and playing the San Antonio Spurs instead. But let’s hold our horses; let’s take a look at who performed at the highest level this year.
Over the next couple of weeks, NBA Commissioner; David Stern will be popping up on our screens to hand out various trophies from various different categories, from the MVP to the Defensive Player of the Year; awards season is always an exciting time in the NBA due to the high level of competition in every single category.
We will break down our own take on which NBA superstars deserve each award, and what better way to begin with that the ultimate individual award itself, the regular-season MVP.
1. LEBRON JAMES | MIAMI HEAT
If you ask general sports fans to name one basketball player, other than Michael Jordan the name you will hear nine times out of ten is LeBron James. In every fan’s book LeBron should be scooping up the MVP award for the regular-season unanimously, there is no doubt that King James is the most talented player in the league today.
The Miami Heat are not one of the most feared or strongest teams in the NBA, on paper the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers are the teams which many would fear due to start-studded talent in every single position.
Without LeBron’s immense performances game after game for the Miami Heat, there is no way they would be the favourites to retain their Larry O’Brien trophy.
This season, LeBron played in 76 games out of the 82; missing most due to injuries; in those 76 games; LeBron shot below 50% 12 times!
He has also shot below 45%, only seven times; numbers which guys dream of posting. His raw talent, brilliant athleticism and his desire to win Championship rings were shown this season as the comparisons between him and the legendary Bulls guard Michael Jordan just grew and grew. His numbers this season show that he definitely deserves all the credit he gets.
2. KEVIN DURANT | OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
In any other season, Kevin Durant would steamroll his way past the opposition towards the MVP award. The battle between Durant and LeBron James is extremely frustrating, and what better example to use than the battle between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, both outstanding individuals, yet it is difficult to separate the two.
In this scenario, James is Messi and Durant is Ronaldo, it is a shame for Durant as he is miles ahead of other players in the league, his size and technical ability are far superior than others, but the fact that he is shining in the LeBron James era is not going in his favour, in any other era; it would be KD’s.
Durant scores second place after joining the exclusive 50/40/90 club, which have led to comparisons that his shooting is on par with the great Larry Bird. He also scored more points on fewer attempts than teammate Russell Westbrook and although he missed out on the NBA scoring title after successfully triumphing three years running, he has made brilliant strides in other areas of his game, and it is scary to think Durant is not even at his peak yet.
Once the LeBron James era is officially over, there is no doubt that the era of Kevin Durant will begin.
3. CARMELO ANTHONY | NEW YORK KNICKS
The third place spot was not Carmelo Anthony’s until his late surge, which lifted him up by one place. Much like LeBron, when you take him away from his team, the team does not look dominating whatsoever and the Knicks’ success this year rests primarily on Carmelo’s shooting and his scoring binges, which earned him his first scoring title.
Carmelo is definitely one of the finest shooters in the game today, and his ability to function as a power forward also helped the Knicks side in general, allowing them to play more comfortably. The New York Knicks did play better defensively when Carmelo was not in the side, however when the ball was in his hands, his offense was always going to be more than enough to make the difference.
His move to the Power Forward slot allowed the Knicks to experiment with younger talent in the guard spot, and if Carmelo continues his fine shooting form in the playoffs where his Knicks side meet seventh seeded Boston, you can expect Carmelo to surge his side to really challenge the Heat in the Eastern Conference.
The discussion always remains; can Carmelo finally win an NBA Championship? And will he ever become the regular-season MVP?
4. CHRIS PAUL | LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
If the NBA season finished in the first two months, right now we would be looking at the MVP, possibly the runner-up; CP3 was definitely proving why he is seen as one of the best Point Guards ever to have played the game. Understandably without Paul, the Clippers team is not that great as they wouldn’t have a leader like Paul who is a brilliant floor-general.
But with Paul, at times they have looked unstoppable. There are no areas in the game in which he doesn’t excel in, his passing is pinpoint, his vision is immaculate and he is the primary reason why his Clippers side are known as ‘Lob City’; due to their crazy dunks and Paul’s on-point alley-oops, there is not much wrong with Paul’s game.
Towards the end of the season his dominance had died out a bit, as the Clippers were obviously happy with the third seed behind the impressive Thunder and Spurs, the majority of credit comes down to Paul and what he is being able to do with the Clippers side looking to overtake the Lakers as the City’s biggest team.
Much like Carmelo, if anybody deserves an NBA Championship ring, it is CP3, and if it wasn’t for the domination of James and Durant, CP3 would definitely be the league’s MVP based on efficiency.
5. KOBE BRYANT | LOS ANGELES LAKERS
A lot of thought went into the fifth spot, the likes of Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan and James Harden all had fantastic seasons and would each break into the top five on any other day.
But Kobe snatches the fifth spot, even though his team had to wait until the final game of the regular-season to clinch a playoff spot.
Kobe will obviously never be the same player he was all those years ago, helping the Lakers become the most dominant franchise in the NBA; and his latest Achilles injury doesn’t help his case either. But managing to fight through multiple injuries through the season, as well as a few role changes for the good of the team, Kobe was impressive on the offence.
Yes, his defence wasn’t spectacular and the likes of Wade were a lot better on defence based on numbers, but his offensive output outweighed Wade’s; he and his Lakers side which had so many questions in the air about whether the team would work, whether the coaching change was good and whether two ego’s in Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant would work on the same team, the Lakers franchise will be happy with the playoff spot at least.
Thankfully Kobe’s season is not career-ending, but it remains doubtful that he will break into the top five MVP’s next season.
Who would you choose as your MVP?
You can follow me on Twitter: @RazK28
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