An early look at the NBA MVP race, with roughly 1/3 of the season complete.
Amare Stoudemire, New York: Sort of feels like Mark Sanchez being mentioned as a fringe MVP candidate by Peter King after the Jets got hot. Amare’s statistically having the best scoring season of his career – 26.2 ppg – but more importantly he’s led the Knicks to a 16-9 start. They’re relevant again. Concern: Will his knees hold up to 37 minutes per game? Chances he wins it: 10:1.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: Tough to imagine him winning with Kevin Durant leading the league in scoring (27.3), but Westbrook’s been tremendous so far. Across the board, his stats are up – scoring (23.6), rebounding (5.3), assists (8.8), shooting, 3-point percentage, steals, FT percentage. In his third year in the league, he’s made that leap into the elite point guard class. Chances he wins it: 8:1.
Derrick Rose, Chicago: Drafted in the same year as Westbrook, here’s Rose’s scoring averages – 16.8, 20.8 and 24.7 this year. He’s averaging a career-high 8.3 assists and most importantly, shooting 42 percent from three. Nobody gets into the lane like he does; his crossover is the nastiest in the league. Can the Bulls ascend into the Top 3 in the East now that Boozer is healthy? It’d help Rose’s cause. Chances he wins it: 7:1.
Deron Williams, Utah: With Carlos Boozer gone, Williams has carried the Jazz to an 18-8 mark, scoring 23 ppg. He’s third in the league in assists (9.9). Chances he wins it: 12:1.
Rajon Rondo, Boston: League-leading 13.2 assists per game, and has played outstanding in all the big spots (ie, nationally-televised games). Probably doesn’t have enough offense (11.2 ppg) to win it, though. Chances he wins it: 9:1.
[ED. Dirk Nowitzki should indeed on this list. 4th in the league in scoring (25.2), shooting a ridiculous 56 percent from the field, and 43 percent from three.]
Not sure how to handle Wade/LeBron. So far, neither has been MVP worthy. They’ll probably cancel each other out in the voting in the same way Durant & Westbrook will. I can’t even tell which player has been better so far.
* Odds were delivered by a unicorn covered in pixie dust this morning.