NBA :: Who Will Be the MVP?
As the NBA season draws to a close and the playoffs are set to begin, we take a closer look at three players who will compete for both the MVP crown and the NBA title.
1. LeBron James
Always a ferocious offense player, what has elevated the Cleveland Cavalier small forward this year is his sudden and devastating commitment to defense. While maintaining a healthy scoring average (28.4 per game), dishing out assists at a rate mostly unheard of for a player of his size (7.2 per game), and rebounding at a clip most power forwards would kill to match (7.6 per game), James has added a defensive stopper mentality that has brought the Cavaliers a stunning 40-2 home record. James is the overwhelming favourite to be named the league’s top player, and his Cavs, owners of basketball’s best record, are favoured to represent the Eastern conference in the finals. At the tender age of 24, the scariest part about James is that he is getting better.
2. Kobe Bryant
The 2008 NBA MVP had another stirring year that is perhaps most noticeable for what he didn’t do. Bryant did not try to win every game by himself, nor blame others when they were incapable of doing what he thought they should. Instead the 30-year-old Los Angeles Laker superstar turned himself into a classic teammate. With talent imported to support his quest for a fourth title, the shooting guard eased off on the throttle to finish with his lowest scoring average in five years (26.8 per game) in what might have been his most successful season. The Lakers enter the playoffs with the top record in the western conference. Though Bryant might not take home a second straight MVP, ala Steve Nash, his team is favored to win the Western conference and get another title shot for Tinstletown.
The Orlando Magic star, and probable defensive player of the year, led the NBA in both rebounding (13.8 per game) and blocked shots (2.92 per game). The 6ft 11 inch center, who rose to national prominence when he won last year’s Slam Dunk contest, donning a Superman cape and dunking from the foul line to do it, has now earned the reputation as one of the game’s best big man. His banged up team might not win it all this year, but the 23-year-old Howard’s play will keep his team in contention for a very long time.