The NBA MVP Race

1 April 2011

Written by: Khairun Hamid

There are only a handful of games left in this year’s NBA regular season. Besides teams scrapping for the final playoff spots, some of the league’s elite players are vying to claim the NBA MVP Award. But before I can name who I think will win this year’s Maurice Pololoff Trophy, we should establish what the ‘Most Valuable Player’ means.

Many people have different opinions on what being an MVP constitutes, but I believe it to be a player most indispensable to his team. It should be awarded to the one player who is essential to his team’s fortunes for that season and who routinely carries his team to victory.

It doesn’t mean that you’re the most skilled player for that season. Sorry LeBron, but that means you’re not making it this year.

So with that established, here’s my Top Five for the season.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers

Portland sits sixth in the Western Conference, and has been in great form since the All-Star break, winning nine of the fifteen games since the break. Without the play of Aldridge, the Blazers would be nowhere near the playoffs in the West.

It seems the superstar center’s snub from the NBA’s player showcase has spurned him on, with Aldridge showcasing some fine form recently. He was named the Western Conference Player of The Month for February, making him only the third Trailblazer in history to do so.

4. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

For the second straight season, Durant is leading the NBA in scoring. His continued growth and improvement is the main reason for the Thunder’s terrific play and back-to-back playoff appearances.

If this were last season, Durant would be much higher on my list but following on from that breakout season means higher expectations. He will undoubtedly win an NBA MVP Award over his career, just not this year.

3. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

If you ever wanted to witness a player single handedly carrying his team, look no further than Howard. He has been monumental all season, almost single-handedly steering the Magic into fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Howard has raised his career scoring average by five points per game – from 18 to 23 – and more than 14 rebounds per game. His play saw him pick up the Eastern Conference Player of the Month award in February.

Howard is set to claim his third straight NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, but that should be the only individual accolade he collects this year.

2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Whether you love or hate him, there is no doubting Bryant’s importance to the Lakers, coming off back-to-back NBA Titles. He continually produces stellar numbers for the team but he has also embraced his teammates, making the Lakers even more dangerous.

Bryant continues to do what he has always done for the Lakers, that is find a way to get his side a win, something he has turned into an art-form. Without Bryant, the Lakers would be nothing like the team they are now, and they certainly wouldn’t have won the last two Championships.

What’s more valuable than that?

1.Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Rose has been nothing short of inspiration this season, driving his Chicago Bulls side to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Playing in the shadow of the greatest player in the history of the sport, Rose has shined, even giving Michael Jordan the confidence to proclaim the Bulls are ready for title success.

In only his third season in the league, Rose has improved his career averages across the board, firmly planting himself at the pinnacle of the NBA’s elite. At just 22 years of age, he looks set to become the youngest MVP in history.

The most exciting thing for all NBA fans is that with Rose being so young, his play will only continue to improve in the future. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll win a few MVP trophies throughout his career.

Liam Quinn is a first-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University.