MVP/Power Rankings Monday: MVP predictions for the 2012-2013 NBA season
Here is my predictions for the 2012-2013 MVP race in the NBA:
Dirk Nowitzki – Should have another strong season, but when a player passes his statistical prime it’s hard to rejoin the MVP conversation
Kobe Bryant – I’m expecting age and the odometer to rear up this year for Kobe, but another 25 point per game season is possible
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili – I expect another strong season for the Spurs, after after the novelty of putting Parker in the top 5 last year, I expect the MVP votes go in other directions
Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose – Will miss too large a portion of the season to make a dent in the race
Kevin Love – The hardest omission from the top 10. The biggest factor is my prediction that the Wolves have a disappointing season, which I’ll cover later this week
9-10 Elite 2nd bananas
10. Russell Westbrook – Russell’s scoring could finally plateau this year with James Harden’s increased usage on the perimeter, but his motor and energy continue to define the Thunder even more than Kevin Durant and on an elite team should find himself with a number of top 10 finishes in his career
9. Blake Griffin – Many star players break out statistically in year 3. Remember Blake was thought as a future MVP candidate after his rookie season. With a PG who’s used to him now and a midrange shot that’s dieing to get consistent, he could be in for a massive season that makes the media reconsider his ceiling back to that superstar level.
5-8: Star production, but not a high enough team record to compete for MVP
8. Lamarcus Aldridge – I see Portland having a surprise good season and almost making the playoffs, which should finally give Lamarcus some lower level MVP buzz for being an ideal mix of skill and athleticism for a PF/C.
7. Andrew Bynum – Should be due for a big season on his own team in Philadelphia. Watch out for 24/12s for above. Bynum is getting some sleeper MVP buzz, but it’s really hard for a player to get in the race for real if his team is in the 40-45 W range, which Philadelphia should be.
6. Deron Williams – Should have his best season since Utah with playoff talent around him again. I’ve always thought Deron has MVP talent, it’ll be interesting to see if he has another gear in him to finally reach that upside.
5. Carmelo Anthony – Lost in the insanity of Lin going to Houston, is that Carmelo is a perfect situation to shine – His team should be elite defensively and he’ll have all the offensive touches he wants. I expect a 28 point per game+ season, I put him above Aldridge, Bynum and Williams because I believe the Knicks will have the best season of the group.
4: The darkhorse
4. Rajon Rondo – Rondo has been injured just enough the last 2 seasons for the “holy crap! 11 assists per game!” buzz to not entirely take off. Yet his playoff performances give him credibility in the media as a superstar – The reason I call him a darkhorse to win MVP is it wouldn’t shock me to see the Celtics have a resurgent run to the top seed in the East or league if they play hungrier than the Heat, who somewhat coasted last year. The best way to compete for the MVP is to have the best record in the conference or league. He likely needs to up his scoring game to really compete though. In all likelihood it will be a 3 man MVP race:
1-3: The frontrunners
3. Kevin Durant – Durant’s case likely rests on the Thunder’s record. If they jump out to a 62-65 W season and cruise to best record in the West, this is the type of situation where the MVP goes to that team’s best player – such as when Dirk Nowitzki picked up his MVP on the Mavericks’ 67 W season. If the Thunder are in the mid/high 50s for Ws, I still believe Durant’s lack of playmaking hurts his case vs the do it all top 2 candidates.
2. Lebron James – While the undisputed best player in the league, voters would clearly love to find a reason to vote for Durant or Chris Paul their 1st MVP vs giving Lebron his 4th. It’s telling that Lebron spent the first half of last year putting up one of the greatest statistical seasons ever and the media was still trying to talk themselves into Durant as the winner. Last season was special because it was Lebron in a Heat uniform recapturing his all time statistical greatness. Does this season have enough uniqueness to it? The way to make it unique would be the Heat going insane and finally dropping the 67-15 season we’ve been waiting for. I believe this will be the signature Heat season, but it will be reflected by an 83 Sixers/01 Lakers type of 4-0, 4-1, 4-1, 4-1 playoff uber domination, than a historic regular season.
1. Chris Paul – I believe Paul’s season will have these things going for it
– A statistical breakout: Lebron was much greater statistically in 2011-2012 than 2010-2011, likely due to the comfort of his teammates and situation. I could see Paul doing the same. Lamar Odom seems like a great fit for Paul and a Blake breakout could stack up Paul’s assist per game numbers. If there’s a year where Paul has a Magic/Stockton-like 13 assists per game, it could be this season. Being a year more past his knee surgery could also increase his confidence.
– The element of surprise: Right now everyone’s penciling in the Lakers as the team of the Pacific. But the Lakers will have to await Dwight Howard’s return, then work him in comfort and chemistry wise. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are older players who can’t log an incredible amount of minutes and the Lakers’ depth is still overall weak. For all these reasons, I see the Clippers jumping them and taking the Pacific and a top 2 or 3 seed. You can imagine the narrative it’d be if the Clippers finished ahead of the Thunder in 1st or 2nd.
– The fun factor: The Clippers should be offense heavy and really fun to watch, between Blake and Deandre’s dunks and skill level like Paul, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, etc. doing their thing.
– The Clippers story: A top 3 finish in the conference and say a win total over 55, would be the best Clippers season ever after all this time. Paul would be given the full glory of saving the Clippers franchise. A season of 55 or 58 wins for the Thunder and Heat is just another year. For the Clippers it’s a national sensation.
So that’s my prediction, Chris Paul finally gets his MVP. I don’t feel great about picking against Lebron, but it’s what I’ll go with.
By Julien Rodger
Email: julienrodger@gmail (Throw me a question, I’ll get around to a weekly/monthly mailbag if I get enough)