Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
We haven’t asked an MVP question in weeks. So here’s this: How many are REALLY in the running? And, yes, please share the names.
David Aldridge: I rank five MVP candidates every week in The Morning Tip, and we vote for five at the end of the regular season, so let’s say five. This year it’s Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.
Steve Aschburner: Every week here, in a basement office at Sekou’s Hang Time Hideout, I help pull together the Race To The MVP feature that runs on Fridays. It features 10 MVP candidates, plus another 4-5 honorable mentions who didn’t quite crack the top 10. It’s a great way to stay updated on some of the league’s best players. But there’s a reason the official MVP ballot has space for only five names. Year in, year out, that’s plenty to sort out the actual winners. That goes for this season too, with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Derrick Rose. (By the way, they’re in alphabetical order, not in my preferred MVP order. People gotta drop by The Race on Fridays to get that.)
Fran Blinebury: At the moment, it would seem to be a two-man race at the top between LeBron James and Derrick Rose. James’ numbers are still better, except in assists and those annoying late-game shots. Dwight Howard has the stats and the nightly burden of carrying his team to be in the conversation, as does Dirk Nowitzki. Still hard to see either carry the day. It’s almost sacrilege not to include Kobe Bryant in any top five and if the Lakers make a run to a “three-peat” it will some day be inexplicable that he’s only been named MVP once.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Three — Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Dwight Howard. Dirk Nowitzki, who should be in the conversation, expands the field with a big finish, because there’s still time. Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant will get mentions. But it feels – and there’s obviously no numbers to back this up – like Rose has made his move to the front of the pack. James’ candidacy is definitely hurt by the new focus on Miami’s inability to close.
Shaun Powell: Derrick Rose appears to be the people’s choice, and the credentials are evident: the Bulls have one of the top 5 or 6 records in basketball and his performances, both in quality and quantity, compare with the game’s elite players. Kevin Durant also make a strong case, although he has the benefit of a better No. 2 guy (Westbrook) than Rose. The real question is whether LeBron James’ late-game collapses have destroyed his candidacy? Right now his campaign looks like Gary Hart’s: Nice momentum, then reckless in the stretch run.
John Schuhmann: You could probably say that there’s six: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Derrick Rose. I know the popular choice these days is Rose, but I have a hard time believing he’s most valuable when the Bulls have a below-average offense. That team wins with its defense and Tom Thibodeau is a lot more responsible for the success on that end of the floor than Rose. My MVP pick right now is Dwight Howard, who’s been largely responsible for Orlando’s success on both ends. But I reserve the right to change my mind between now and April 13.
Sekou Smith: Derrick Rose and LeBron James are my frontrunners in what is basically a seven-man race. Manu Ginobili and Paul Pierce are the two names you hear least when the MVP topic is raised. When you consider what their teams have done all season and what they have meant to their teams, I don’t know how you can exclude them. Dwight Howard is having a monster year. Dirk Nowitzki is, too. And Kobe Bryant should always be mentioned when we’re talking MVP. But when we’re talking about the most valuable player to his team (if that is what we’re talking about), Rose is the man.